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It took a little more than a quarter into Saturday’s NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas women’s basketball game against North Greenville University, but once host Barton College found its groove, the Lady Bulldogs played some of their basketball of the season.
With its 90-54 victory at Wilson Gym, Barton did something it hadn’t been able to do all season — win a third straight game. The Lady Bulldogs (10-4, 7-2 CC) were outscored 16-10 in the first quarter but found their footing in the second quarter, ending the period on a 9-2 run to lead by seven at the half. Barton then opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run and the Crusaders (5-7, 4-5 CC) had no answer in losing for the third time in four games.
“The second half, we played well,” Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing said. “The first half we got off to a slow start. I’m pretty disappointed in our first quarter. The second quarter we came along and got 22 and held them to 9, which was good. But the second half we came out and did a better job of pushing the ball and playing at a higher speed — the speed we wanted to play at — and we did a better job defensively as well.”
Indeed, the Lady Bulldogs, who shot 40.7% (35 of 86) from the field for the game, made 50% of their shots (22 of 44) in the second half and limited the Crusaders to 30.8% (20 of 65) accuracy. Barton’s crisp passing and hustle to get in position led to many easy buckets in the paint, often in transition. The Lady Bulldogs outscored NGU 44-18 in the paint and 26-7 off turnovers. Barton banged the boards for 61 rebounds to just 37 for the Crusaders, leading to 20 second-chance points for B.C.
“For the most part, the passing was good and the emphasis for this game was to move the ball and make them play defense. So we did a good job of that,” Saintsing said. “We work hard every day on rebounding so it’s coming together.”
Despite sitting out the last 7 minutes, 21 seconds of the first half, Barton 6-foot-3 junior center Shanika Peterkin managed 17 points and 15 rebounds. However, Jami Tham-Morrobel continued a sensational sophomore season with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Lady Bulldogs barely skipped a beat with Peterkin on the bench.
“I feel like Michelle stepped up,” Tham-Morrobel said of junior guard Michelle Gainey, a Rocky Mount High product by way of Fayetteville State. “She was able to play the 4 position and I had to take Shanika’s position and we basically just worked around each other and we passed the ball better.”
While Peterkin, Tham-Morrobel and Gainey were holding down the inside, senior guard Summer Baer was filling it up from outside. Baer, who buried 5-of-10 3-point attempts, netted 11 of her 17 points in the first half, including three from long range during the time Peterkin was on the bench.
“Oh, my goodness! It’s awesome!” Baer said of what it’s like to have the hot shooting touch. “Love it when those are going in, especially from the corner.”
The 5-6 senior from Fleming Island, Florida, said that having a week of practice helped the Lady Bulldogs, but that the team overall is finding its rhythm.
Baer singled out Tham-Morrobel for her overall improved play, something Barton needed with the graduation of four-time All-Conference Carolinas selection Kianna Wynn, the school’s all-time leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer.
“Jami’s had a good year,” Baer said. “This has been a good year for her. She’s really stepped up her game for us, especially after losing Kianna.”
Can the Lady Bulldogs finally find that consistent touch and reel off a bunch of wins in a row? Saintsing said playing league leaders Belmont Abbey and Emmanuel close together early contributed to the lack of a lengthy string of victories so far.
“You look at the teams we’ve played and it would have been hard to win all those games,” she said. “We played some of the tougher teams in our conference. I think we’re coming together a little bit now so I hope we can get on a roll and keep it going. We’ve got some injuries that are hurting our rotation right now but we’ve just got to figure it out.”
The Lady Bulldogs will host Converse on Wednesday but won’t return to Wilson Gym until Feb. 8 against Lees-McRae after six consecutive road games.
NORTH GREENVILLE (54)
Muhammed 14, Luttrell 5, Donehew 14, Stoddard 3, Okeke 9, Montgomery 4, Shelton, Rogers, Hughes 5, Martin, Cline.
Wiggins 16, Gainey 2, Peterkin 17, Baer 17, Tham-Morrobel 16, Doss 6, Jones, Keller, Roberson, Mitchell, McGrory 2, Ferguson 6, Gladney 2, Morris 6.
Score by quarters:
North Greenville 16 9 14 14 — 54
Barton 10 22 28 30 — 90