Barton advances to league tourney semifinals with 91-74 win over North Greenville

Junior Zach Grant shoots over a North Greenville University defender during Tuesday night's game in Wilson, N.C. Grant made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points in the win. | Photo by Brittany Arent
Junior Zach Grant shoots over a North Greenville University defender during Tuesday night's game in Wilson, N.C. Grant made six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points in the win. | Photo by Brittany Arent

by Benny Benton

WILSON, N.C. – No. 3 seed Barton College poured in 15 shots from 3-point range – the most in a game for the Bulldogs in at least seven years – while claiming a 91-74 victory over No. 6 seed North Greenville University Tuesday in a quarterfinal matchup of the 2018 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Tournament.

Junior Zach Grant led the assault from behind the arc for the Bulldogs (17-12), draining a career-high six 3-pointers in 10 attempts on his way to a career-high 22 points. Matt Woods was a perfect 4-of-4 from 3-point range for 12 points, and three other players made at least one for BC, which shot 52 percent for the night from long distance (15 of 29).

North Greenville (12-17) shot 37 percent from 3-point distance, making 7-of-19. Senior Matt Moore sank four of the seven as part of a game-high 28-point scoring night. Junior Roderick Howell added 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from inside the paint, and also collected a team-high nine rebounds for the Crusaders.

Six different players reached double-figures for Barton. In addition to Grant and Woods, BC received 16 points from Bobby Stenborg, 13 points from Michael Boykin and 10 points each from Isaiah Buck-Lowman and Jeff Gordon. Buck-Lowman also completed his third double-double of the season by also corralling a game-high 10 rebounds. Stenborg claimed eight boards, and Boykin handed out seven assists.

Barton fell behind by as many as five points at 12-7 on Tommy Wade's layup with 15:13 to go in the first half, and the Bulldogs never led over the first 10 minutes of play.

BC finally took the lead at 17-16 on a Buck-Lowman free throw with exactly 10 minutes to go in the half. The Bulldogs added a basket by Stenborg on their next possession, and turned a Stenborg steal into a Jake Kakar layup on the possession after that to go up five at 21-16 with 9:08 left before intermission.

The Crusaders called a timeout, but it didn't slow the Barton momentum, as Grant and Woods both fired in 3-pointers, and the BC defense forced NGU into a shot-clock violation, further firing up the Wilson Gym crowd.

From the 16-16 tie, Barton would ultimately go on a 22-5 run over the next six and a half minutes to take a commanding 38-21 advantage with 3:30 left before halftime. The Bulldogs carried a 47-32 lead into intermission, and eventually grew the margin to as many as 26 points.

Leading 75-49 with 10 minutes to go, Barton hit one of its few cold spurts of the night, missing three straight 3-pointers and making just one of its next seven shots overall. North Greenville, which shot 57 percent from the field in the second half, took advantage and stormed back with a 17-2 run, capped by a dunk from Wade that pulled NGU within 11 at 77-66 with 5:41 still to go.

The two sides traded baskets twice, moving the score to 81-70, before Grant drilled a 3-pointer, the Crusaders turned the ball over, and Woods drained a 3-pointer to put Barton comfortably back in front by 17 with 1:39 left.

Barton moved the ball well, handing out 25 assists on 33 made baskets, and the BC defense forced North Greenville into 16 turnovers.

The victory, Barton's sixth in its last seven games, moves the Bulldogs into the semifinals of the league tournament for the third straight year. In its semifinal game, Barton will face host team and No. 2 seed Lees-McRae College at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Banner Elk, N.C.

The Bobcats defeated No. 7 seed Erskine College, 86-78, on Tuesday, and became the host site for the rest of the league tourney after No. 1 seed King University was upset by No. 8 seed Belmont Abbey College, 82-74. The Crusaders will face No. 5 seed Limestone College, an 81-79 victor over No. 4 University of Mount Olive, in the other semifinal game at LMC.