Bulldogs scorch Saints

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Returning to Wilson Gymnasium proved to be a welcomed remedy for the sputtering Barton College men’s basketball team on Wednesday night.

With a season-high seven players scoring in double figures, the Bulldogs, losers in three of their previous four games, posted a 96-76 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas victory against Limestone (South Carolina) College.

Head coach Ron Lievense’s Bulldogs notched their eighth conference win against five losses and improved to 12-11 overall. Limestone departed 6-7 and 10-12, respectively.

Junior guard Zach Grant and Isaiah Buck-Lowman, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, each tossed in 16 points for Barton. Junior Bobby Stenborg canned 13, sophomore guard Michael Boykin 12, sophomore Jeff Gordon and junior Matt Woods 11 each and 6-8 freshman Blake Burdack 10.

The Bulldogs sizzled with their shooting, connecting on 35 of 51 shots from the floor for a torrid and season-best 68.6-percent accuracy and were uncanny from 3-point land, knocking down 10 of 12 attempts. Barton sank 16 of 21 free throws.

Barton hit 72.7 percent of its shots in posting a 47-39 halftime lead. The Bulldogs “cooled off” to 65.5 percent in the second half.

The Saints went 31 of 62 for 50-percent accuracy from the floor.

Barton scored the first four points and never trailed or was tied. But Limestone kept battling back, cutting the deficit to 32-29 on a lauup from Macuma Kane with 5 minutes, 50 seconds left in the opening half. Kane’s 3-pointer staked the Saints to their only lead of 37-36 with 3:08 showing.

Gordon answered with a jumper to ignite an 8-0 flurry. Barton’s lead finally reached double digits at 68-56 on Buck-Lowman’s 3-pointer with 11:44 to go.

Grant’s jumper boosted Barton’s margin to 76-59 with 8:58 left, and the Saints drew no closer than 16 points. The cushion first reached 20 points at 87-67 on Gordon’s layup with 3:22 left.

Boykin snared 10 rebounds and Burdack nine as Barton claimed a 31-23 rebounding margin.

Limestone got 18 points from T.J. Sheppard, 17 from Kane, 15 from Kenny Hairston and 12 from Jaquan Simms.

Barton faces another conference test at 4 p.m. Saturday in Wilson Gym against Southern Wesleyan.