Barton men’s basketball falls in nail-biter to Belmont Abbey, 77-76, in league tournament semifinals

Barton junior guard Michael Boykin finished with a team-high 22 points in a 77-76 setback to Belmont Abbey in the league tournament semifinals on Saturday.  Photo by Matt Proseus
Barton junior guard Michael Boykin finished with a team-high 22 points in a 77-76 setback to Belmont Abbey in the league tournament semifinals on Saturday. Photo by Matt Proseus

FRANKLIN SPRINGS, Ga. – The Belmont Abbey men's basketball team (23-7) rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to squeeze by Barton (22-8), 77-76, in the Conference Carolinas Championship semifinals Saturday at Williamson Arena.  The Crusaders are the second seed in this year's tournament while the Bulldogs were seeded third.

Belmont Abbey moves on to play Emmanuel (Ga.) (24-9) – the top seed – in the finals on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.  The Lions downed fourth-seeded Mount Olive (14-16), 70-64, in their semifinal contest earlier in the day.

The Crusaders' John Bowen (Bladenboro, N.C.) hit the game-winning lay-up with four seconds left while DeQuan Abrom (Washington, D.C.) – the league player of the year – tallied a game-high 32 points in the victory.  Bowen added 17 points as the Crusaders defeated the Bulldogs for the second time this year.

Barton – which led by a 50-38 score at intermission – was paced by junior guard Michael Boykin (Clinton, N.C.) with 22 points and senior forward Bobby Stenborg (Garner, N.C.) finished with a double-double, 18 points and 13 rebounds, in the losing effort.

Barton lost despite holding a 50-29 edge on the boards and shot 62 percent (21-of-34) in the first half but couldn't shake Belmont Abbey.  Barton was also hurt by 19 turnovers.  The Bulldogs saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end as well and has an outside shot of a possible berth to the playoffs.