by Kevin Buczek
WILSON, N.C.-No. 8 Southeast Region ranked Barton College outscored visiting Belmont Abbey College 43-29 in the second half, breaking a 29-29 halftime tie to win Monday's Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals game 72-58 in the Dog House.
The Lady Bulldogs shot 46.4% in the second half including 4-of-6 (66.7%) from three-point distance to pull away in the final 20 minutes. Barton (20-7 Overall) will next host North Greenville University (20-7) in the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Barton, under the leadership of 23rd year head coach Wendee Saintsing, is the defending Conference Carolinas Tournament Champions and has now posted 20-win seasons in each of its last four campaigns.
The Royal Blue and White used balanced scoring against the Crusaders with four Lady Bulldogs reaching double figures. Senior Jannetta Robinson and junior Faith Hunter each swished 16 points; junior Jolanda Mitchell cashed in 13 points and sophomore Nyeshea Willie bucketed 12.
Mitchell flirted with a double-double with a team-high eight rebounds. Robinson followed with seven boards while dishing out a team-high five assists. Junior Janae Jackson chipped in eight points and a team-best three blocks. Mitchell and Jackson each swiped the ball from Belmont Abbey four times as Barton made a total of 14 steals.
Sophomore Melisa Foures and senior Paula Regalado were a two-player show for the Abbey. Foures poured in a team-high 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Regalado recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomores Candace Fox and Kelsey Long each tallied nine points. Fox handed out a game-high six dimes.
Belmont Abbey held a lead throughout most of the first half and led by as many as seven twice including as late as 26-19 with 5:25 left on a layup by Regalado. The Bulldogs raced ahead with the next eight points and later took a two-point edge into the final minute on a layup by junior Elaine Morgan but a late lay-in by Long knotted the scoreboard at the midway intermission.
After trading the first two scores of the second half, Barton broke the seventh and final tie of 33-33 with a 10-0 run that put the hosts in front for the final 17 minutes. The surge was highlighted by a trey by Hunter, a steal and fastbreak layup by Willie, and an offensive rebound and score by Mitchell.
The Crusaders kept within striking distance and only trailed by five, 53-48, with 6:41 left before a 3-pointer by Willie and 5-of-6 made free throws extended the hosts lead to double figures as the clock ticked inside four minutes. A pair of trifectas by Hunter helped Barton pull away to its largest lead of 18 (71-53) in the final minute.
Belmont Abbey was outrebounded by nine in the regular season matchup but did a much better job boxing out on Monday to win the battle of the boards 38-31, which allowed the Crusaders to stay in the contest much longer.
The Abbey was plagued by 30 turnovers that resulted in 26 points off turnovers for the Bulldogs.