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In its first game in more than two weeks, the Barton College women’s basketball team suffered its worst loss of the season, 79-65, to NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas foe Lees-McRae on Wednesday night at Wilson Gym.
The Bobcats (6-6, 3-2 CC) went on a 17-0 run over the last six minutes of the second quarter, led by the dynamic guard play of Markia Stacey and Brea Forbes, to take a 41-18 lead at halftime. The senior guards — who were unstoppable in the pick and roll all night — finished with a combined 32 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
“We knew what they were going to do, we know how they play and we know (Stacey) is going to drive the ball to the basket, but just couldn’t really step up and stop them defensively,” Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing said. “It’s hard to play defense when you’re standing straight up and you’re not ready to play.”
Saintsing felt like the hot shooting of Lees-McRae benefited from lack of defensive effort from Barton (10-3, 3-3 CC). The Bobcats shot 45.1 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from the 3-point line and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line — all nine percent above season average.
“Defensively we weren’t giving out the effort, because it took us until the fourth quarter before we started going hard defensively,” Saintsing said. “Just really disappointed in our defensive effort.”
Barton also shot poorly, going 21 of 66 (31.8 percent) for the game and just 18-percent shooting from the field in the first half. No Lady Bulldog shot better than 50 percent and they turned the ball over 20 times to 10 assists. Barton’s leading scorer, senior Kianna Wynn, struggled to score as Lees-McRae’s 6-foot-2 Meg Crawford gave the 6-0 Wynn problems in the post — holding her to 4 of 16 shooting for 12 points and nine rebounds while Crawford finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
“Offense comes along with defense,” Saintsing said. “If we don’t have the effort defensively, we’re going to struggle offensively. You’re going to have some bad nights offensively, but you shouldn’t have bad nights defensively.”
Junior guard Summer Baer finished with 16 points, one shy of her career high, while senior Dinah Neal added 12 points and five rebounds.
After winning eight straight to start the season, Lady Bulldogs have lost three of their last five — all during an eight-game homestand that ended Wednesday. Now a quarter of the way through conference play, Barton, the league tournament champion last season, is tied for sixth place in the 11-team Conference Carolinas with only four home games remaining.
“We’ve got to realize that we’ve lost three conference games, and two of them we shouldn’t have lost, and it was because of our defense,” Saintsing said. “Against Emmanuel (an 81-77 loss Dec. 8) we were up 19 and broke down defensively and tonight we decided not to play defense until the fourth quarter. So we’ve just got to play 40 minutes of defense.”