by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – An 8-1 run by the Barton College women's basketball team with time winding down in the third quarter and crossing over to the fourth quarter proved to be vital as the Lady Bulldogs erased a first-half deficit to defeat Lees-McRae College 85-75 on Monday in a Conference Carolinas quarterfinal matchup at Wilson Gym.
The Lady Bulldogs (21-8) would shake off a cold-shooting opening-half on Monday and make the most of their opportunities at the free-throw line in the second-half. Barton went 23-for-30 at the charity stripe in the half, while the Bobcats went just 8-of-12 at the line. Lees-McRae (10-17) shot 43.3 percent from the field in the game and held a 31-26 lead at the break.
Barton will host the semifinals and final of the Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Championship as the highest-remaining seed in the tournament. The last time that the Lady Bulldogs hosted the league semifinals and finals was in 2011 as BC won the regular season championship and eventually won the tournament championship.
Junior Kianna Wynn tallied a season-high 35 points while notching a double-double to pace Barton. Wynn went 11-of 20 from the floor and 13-of-16 at the free-throw line to go along with 15 rebounds, while redshirt senior Alex Kimble added 17 points and five boards for the Lady Bulldogs. Freshman Shanika Peterkin narrowly missed a double-double, finishing with nine points and nine rebounds. Peterkin also tallied six steals and three blocks in the contest.
Breana Hardnett paced the Bobcats with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Hardnett added 7 rebounds and three assists, while Markia Stacey went 7-of-14 from the field for a total of 17 points. Meg Crawford notched a team-high 14 boards while adding eight points and two blocks. Karli Mason and Alexis Ammons each recorded eight points for the Bobcats.
Peterkin started the scoring on the night for the Lady Bulldogs with a layup at the 8:13 mark to make it 2-0. Kimble stretched the lead for BC to 5-0 by sinking her first trey of the contest. It would be a rough start for the Bobcats, who missed each of their first ten shots before Brea Forbes tallied her only points of the night with a three-point play to trim the deficit to 5-3.
A 4-0 run for Lees-McRae put them in front of the Lady Bulldogs 7-6 with four minutes left to play. Kimble answered with a pair of free-throws to give BC back its advantage on the scoreboard. Senior Taura Jones gave Barton a 15-13 lead before the end of the first quarter as she connected on her only shot of the night (from downtown) with 43 seconds remaining.
Stacey quickly gave the Bobcats a 16-15 lead to start the second quarter and shift the momentum in the contest. Lees-McRae used the trey from Stacey to spark a 10-0 run that would give the Bobcats a 23-15 edge over BC. Peterkin ended the drought for the Lady Bulldogs with a layup followed by one shot at the line. Senior Karimah Dean tallied four-consecutive points for Barton to cut the deficit to 25-22 with 6:18 left in the half. Following a timeout by the Bobcats, Lees-McRae stretched its lead back to 29-22 after a layup by Grace Canella.
The Lady Bulldogs would go into the half trailing by five on the scoreboard as Wynn tallied the final bucket of the half for Barton. BC finished the half 9-of-32 from the field and 2-of-10 from downtown but went 6-of-7 at the charity stripe to keep things close.
Lees-McRae started the third quarter by tallying the first four points to up its advantage to 10 on the scoreboard. Trailing 36-26, senior Tatyana Jackson scored two of her six points on the night to trim the gap to single digits. Following a pair of good shots at the free-throw line, Wynn pulled the Lady Bulldogs within two points of the Bobcats. Wynn would later earn a chance for a three-point play to knot the score 42-42 with 4:05 left in the quarter.
After falling behind 51-50, Stacey knotted the score one last time for the Bobcats by going 1-of-2 at the charity stripe. Wynn gave Barton the lead for good with 30 ticks left in the quarter on a layup after working to get an offensive rebound to make it 53-51. Jackson ended the quarter with a layup to give BC a five-point edge going into the fourth quarter.
Barton would take a 10-point lead over the Bobcats with 5:54 left in the quarter as Wynn tallied seven straight points for the Lady Bulldogs to make it 68-58. BC kept its run going as Peterkin and Jackson joined the party to give the Lady Bulldogs a 72-58 lead. The Bobcats would trim the gap to 75-67 as Stacey capped a 6-0 run for Lees-McRae with 2:05 remaining. With just over a minute remaining in the contest, sophomore Hanna McGrory sank a pair of free-throws to put the Barton lead back to 79-69. Wynn capped the scoring in the contest for both sides with a pair of good free-throws to make it 85-75.
The contest featured eight lead changes and four ties, while BC tallied 27 points off 21 turnovers by Lees-McRae. Barton also capitalized on second-chance opportunities in the contest, recording 22 points thanks to 21 offensive rebounds. The Lady Bulldogs ended the game by shooting 64.3 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, while Lees-McRae shot 50 percent from the field.
Barton will play the first of two games inside Wilson Gym on Thursday as the No. 3 seed Lady Bulldogs will face the No. 7 seed Erskine College Flying Fleet at 5:30 p.m. The No. 4 seed King University Tornado will face the No. 8 seed North Greenville University Crusaders at 7:30 p.m. Winners from each semifinal match will meet for the championship on Friday at 7 p.m.