by Kevin Buczek
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C.-Sophomore guard Nyeshea Willie scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help the Barton College women's basketball team knock of Conference Carolinas archrival Mount Olive College, 54-49, on Valentine's Day in Kornegay Arena.
The Lady Bulldogs moved into a first-place tie in the East Division of Conference Carolinas after picking up the big road win against the Trojans. Barton (16-7 Overall) and Mount Olive (17-6) are both 11-3 in the league with each squad having three regular season games left on the slate.
Barton has won six of its last seven games and the Lady Bulldogs have now knocked off the three other teams in the league (Mount Olive, Limestone College and North Greenville University) that are also vying for the regular season title and No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament within the last 11 days.
Willie made the Lady Bulldogs only two made 3-pointers in the second half en route to her 16 points. Senior guard Jannetta Robinson joined Willie with 16 Barton points with an accurate trigger by swishing 8-of-12 field goal attempts.
Sophomore guard Jasmine McDonald paced the Trojans with game-high totals of 17 points and 18 rebounds for a double-double. Junior Andrea Jones added 12 points and classmate Tamara Nesmith provided eight points and 17 rebounds.
MOC dominated the backboards, 60-49, despite a season-high 10 rebounds from BC junior Jolanda Mitchell and nine boards from junior Shante Neal. Mitchell also had season-best totals of three assists and three blocks.
A sloppy first half resulted in seven ties and seven lead changes and low deadlocked score of 22-22 at halftime. The two teams continued to play a close showdown to start the second act as the marquee matchup produced a total of nine ties and 14 lead changes.
A Mitchell layup put the Bulldogs ahead, 32-31, for good with the clock ticking inside 14 minutes. Mitchell's hoop started a 9-0 BC run that included baskets by Willie, Robinson and junior Janae Jackson.
Mount Olive closed to within two points a pair of times in the final five minutes but Willie answered with field goals on Barton's ensuing possession each time to keep the visitors in front. The Trojans only trailed 49-47 with 1:23 left after a layin by McDonald but Willie scored on a pair of layups in the final 70 seconds to seal the victory.
Barton shot 36.9% and held Mount Olive to 25.3%. The Bulldogs committed more turnovers, 24-20, but were only whistled for 11 fouls.
Barton plays its last regular season road game at Belmont Abbey College on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.