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With all its pieces in place, the Barton women’s basketball team looked ready to make a run at its first NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas regular-season title since 2011 with a pair of impressive victories Friday and Saturday in Wilson Gym.
After knocking off Lees-McRae 81-68 on Friday night, the Lady Bulldogs ended a six-game losing streak against King with a 71-51 win. Its sixth straight victory left Barton 9-5 overall and 4-2 and tied for third place with Mount Olive in Conference Carolinas. The Lady Bulldogs will host the Trojans on Wednesday.
With junior forward and two-time first-team all-conference selection Kianna Wynn making her season debut in the Dec. 16 victory over Converse, 6-foot-2 freshman Shanika Peterkin has emerged as a difference-maker on defense. Peterkin posted career highs with 14 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks in Friday’s win and followed that with 10 rebounds, six blocks and two points Saturday.
“She’s special,” redshirt senior Alex Kimble, who led Barton with 23 points Saturday after scoring 20 on Friday. “She has something that you can’t teach and that’s heart and height. She really helps us defensively. We know that we can trust her if we need her to be there in the paint and she really makes a difference for us.”
Peterkin’s agility proved valuable against King, which rotated 6-4 sophomore Kory West and 6-2 redshirt senior Amy Van Deventer, in swatting layup attempts on drives that Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing said shouldn’t have happened.
“I think we played pretty well,” Saintsing said. “Defensively, we’ve got some things to work on. They got to the basket way too easily, but we got some stops when we needed them. Shanika was huge in the middle defensively and Alex did a real good job of hitting 3s when we needed them. I mean, very timely 3s.”
Kimble had five of Barton’s nine 3-pointers as it shot 40.9 percent from behind the arc.
“My teammates did a good job of finding me in transition,” she said. “We did really well executing so we were able to convert it from the 3-point line.”
Despite shooting just 36.4 percent (24 of 66) from the floor, Barton dominated the glass with 43 rebounds to just 26 for King as the Lady Bulldogs led the entire game.
“We’ve got all the potential in the world,” Saintsing said after Saturday’s game. “We talked about the game before we went out today that we’ve got to figure out how to win games and be consistent and bring out the effort and the energy to do that every single game. Sometimes I haven’t seen that every game so that’s something we’ve got to start doing more consistently.”
Both teams were a bit sluggish in the first quarter, combining for 15 points, but the Lady Bulldogs found their range in the second quarter. Kimble, senior Taura Jones, senior Tatyana Jackson and sophomore Hannah McGrory each sank a trey as part of Barton’s 28 points that gave it a 37-23 halftime lead.
The Tornado (5-9, 2-5 CC) cut the lead to single digits on two occasions in the third quarter but the Lady Bulldogs finished the period with a 16-5 run to take a 58-38 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Wynn had a “quiet” 10 points and seven rebounds while senior Karimah Dean, coming off the bench as usual, contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.
Reserve Taylor Freeman had 12 points off the bench to lead King, which hadn’t lost in Wilson since Jan. 3, 2013, and was 8-3 against Barton since entering Conference Carolinas in 2011.
“We’ve struggled against King and we really wanted to beat them,” Kimble said. “That was our main talk before the game: We really wanted to beat King. And we made up our minds to do whatever it takes to win and we did it.”
BARTON 81, LEES-MCRAE 68
The Lady Bulldogs broke open a tie game at halftime with 36 points in the third quarter Friday. Wynn scored nine of her game-high 24 points in the period while Peterkin and Kimble had eight points each in helping Barton to a 19-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Barton was too much on the boards for Lees-McRae, which fell to 4-8 overall and 1-5 in league games with Saturday’s 74-73 loss at Mount Olive. The Lady Bulldogs yanked down 65 rebounds, including 25 on the offensive end that led to 28 second-chance points. Barton also got the foul line a season-high 36 times and sank 31 for 86.1-percent accuracy compared to Lees-McRae’s 12-of-16 showing. Wynn, who was 7 of 17 from the floor, hit 10 of 13 from the stripe while Peterkin swished all six of her foul shots. Kimble and Neal each went 4 of 4 from the line.
Karli Mason came off the bench to lead LMC with 13 points, including three of the Bobcats’ 10 3-pointers