by Kevin Buczek
WILSON, N.C.-A three-pointer by senior guard Jannetta Robinson from the left baseline with 36 seconds left sealed a 79-74 win for Barton College over visiting North Greenville University in the semifinals of the 2012 Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Tournament in the Dog House on Thursday night.
No. 6 Southeast Region ranked Barton will have a chance to successfully defend its 2011 Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship in the title game at No. 8 regionally ranked Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C., on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Saints in the only regular season encounter by a score of 75-65 on Feb. 4.
Barton improved to 21-7 overall with its seventh consecutive win. North Greenville most likely ends its season at 20-8.
Robinson led all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-21 field goal shooting including a perfect 2-for-2 precision behind the arc. The Lady Bulldogs only senior took over after BC's two leading scorers in sophomore Nyeshea Willie and junior Faith Hunter fouled out. Robison played over 36 minutes.
The Crusaders started the game ice cold to trail by 24 at halftime then caught on fire in the second half to take a six point lead before Robinson and the Lady Bulldogs fought back for the win.
NGU started play only make one of its first 15 shots as Barton jumped out to a quick 14-2 lead. The Lady Bulldogs continued to play strong throughout the first period to take the commanding 44-20 advantage at the intermission. BC shot 51.4% in the first half compared to just 27.8% by the Crusaders.
North Greenville came out of the locker room a different team swishing 13 of its first 14 shots in the second half and used a full court press that forced Barton into 12 of its 23 turnovers in the first nine minutes that pulled the Crusaders to within two, 57-55, at the 11:01 mark when Willie left the game after a long delay because of a potential back injury.
NGU kept the momentum with Willie out and finished off a 41-11 rally to start the final frame to take 61-55 lead with 8:15 on the clock. Willie, who returned to the game a couple minutes after her scary departure, ended the Crusaders run with a fastbreak layup. An old-fashion three point play by junior Jolanda Mitchell followed by a Robinson trey and jumper bolted the Bulldogs back ahead 66-63 with a 9-0 run.
Barton remained ahead but a foul call and a technical gave the visitors four free throw attempts in which they converted on three to pull within one with 2:53 left. Both teams were held scoreless for each of their next two possessions before Robinson drew a foul while driving to the paint and made the ensuing free throws to give BC at 74-71 lead at 1:25. NGU missed its next shot and then Robinson delivered her dagger on an inbounds play. Robinson tossed the ball to junior Jolanda Mitchell on the left baseline who immediately fed it back to her for the catch and release trifecta.
Karly Stache, the Crusaders leading scorer, netted her only three-pointer of the game on a similar inbounds play on the right baseline with 19 seconds left to slice the deficit in half but a big offensive rebound by junior Janae Jackson and two made free throws by classmate Elaine Morgan advanced Barton.
Junior Shante Neal scored 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs and Hunter finished with 11. Jackson pulled down a team-high seven rebounds while Mitchell, Neal and Morgan each corralled six. Morgan handed out four assists and Willie swiped four steals.
Timisty Nelson scored 15 points for the Crusaders while Courtney Friddle and Krisceda Cotton each bucketed 10. Stache was held to just five points.
NGU edged BC 45-43 on the boards with Friddle completing a double-double with a game-high 15 boards.
Barton cooled off to 36.4% in the second half to finish firing at 44.1%. The Crusaders sank 51.5% over the final 20 minutes for 39.1% overall.