by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College women's basketball team will play 11 of its 28 games at Wilson Gymnasium in 2017-18, including the team's home-opener against South Atlantic Conference member Coker College on November 14 at 5:30 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs will head to Hickory, N.C. for games against Lenoir-Rhyne University and Catawba College on November 10 and 11, respectively, as part of the Annual SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge to officially open the season.
"We believe that the tougher schedule we play, the better it will prepare us for our conference schedule," said Wendee Saintsing, Barton's 29th-year head coach. "We open with Catawba and Lenoir-Rhyne in a conference challenge event which will be tough competition on the road."
Barton's home schedule features matchups against 2016-17 Conference Carolinas regular-season champion Limestone College on January 31, Conference Carolinas tournament winner King University on January 6, and rival University of Mount Olive on January 10.
The Lady Bulldogs will also participate in the North Georgia Classic against Peach Belt Conference members Georgia College (November 17) and North Georgia (November 18) in Dahlonega, Ga.
Barton's last road-trip before opening a four-game conference home stand will be against Big South and NCAA Division I member High Point University. BC will make the trip to High Point, N.C. to face its old conference foe on November 21. The matchup will carry special meaning for Saintsing, who played volleyball and basketball for the Lady Panthers before receiving her bachelor's degree from High Point.
BC opens Conference Carolinas play at home against Belmont Abbey College on November 29 at 5:30 p.m. Barton then plays host to Erskine College (December 2), Emmanuel College (December 9), and Converse College (December 16).
The Lady Bulldogs will also hit the road for non-conference games at Fayetteville State University (December 30) and Shaw University (January 2).
The month of February will be a sprint to the finish for BC, as five of the final six regular-season contests come on the road against Belmont Abbey (February 7), Erskine (February 14), Limestone (February 17), Converse (February 20), and Mount Olive (February 23). The lone home date during the month of February for the Lady Bulldogs will be against Southern Wesleyan University on February 3.
Barton's 2017-18 squad features six seniors, two juniors, three sophomores, and five freshmen. Seniors Taura Jones (Chesapeake, Va.), Tatyana Jackson (Wake Forest, N.C.), Karimah Dean (Greensboro, N.C.), Jaclyn Welch (Albany, N.Y.), Alex Kimble (Virginia Beach, Va.), and Jasmine Fate (Wilson, N.C.) will look to help the Lady Bulldogs build off of last year's success. BC finished the 2016-17 campaign 18-12 overall and 14-8 in Conference Carolinas play and advanced to the conference tournament, beating North Greenville 89-62 in the quarterfinals. The Lady Bulldogs saw their season come to an end in the semifinals against Limestone, dropping an 83-61 decision.
"Our seniors understand what it takes to get to the top after three years of disappointment," Saintsing said. "To this point they have met each challenge."
"Our newcomers have come in very impressive and have been working very hard," Saintsing noted. "As a class of newcomers, they have come in the most prepared of any class we have brought in over the years. They pick up things quickly and are working hard and getting better each day. We are extremely excited about this group of freshmen."
When asked about the outlook heading into the 2017-18 season Saintsing added, "We are excited for the seniors and want them to end their careers on a winning note and I think they are posed to do just that."
She also noted that, "If we are expected to win and go into post-season play on a strong note, everyone must stay on the same page and buy into the commitment that it will take to be a championship team."
The league's post-season tournament is slated to begin on February 26 and end on March 2. The tournament will once again be a bracket-style tournament with eight teams qualifying based upon league standings at the end of the regular season. The higher seeds will host the first round, with the highest remaining seed hosting the final two rounds of the tournament.