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The Barton College women’s basketball team counts upon Jami Tham-Morrobel, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, to play hard and to play steady. That’s her signature.
Furthermore, Tham-Morrobel was needed extra minutes Wednesday night because of injuries to back-up Lady Bulldogs’ post players.
In 29 minutes of court time, Tham-Morrobel responded with a performance of 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a convincing 72-47 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas conquest of Converse College at Wilson Gymnasium.
In its final home appearance until Feb. 8, Barton stretched its winning streak to four games, climbed into a tie with the University of Mount Olive for third place in the conference at 8-2 and emerged 11-4 overall.
Converse slid into the conference cellar at 1-9 and lost for the 17th time in 19 games.
The game’s direction became evident in the second quarter, and Barton left no doubt by exploding for a 26-7 margin in the third quarter.
“Tonight was sloppy,” reviewed 32nd-year Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing. “We did some good things in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter was downhill.
“In the third quarter, we moved the ball well and played better defensively. We did a better job of keeping their drives out of the paint — which we didn’t do the first, second and fourth quarters.”
Tham-Morrobel also cited the Lady Bulldogs’ ball movement in the third quarter, noting: “The guards were getting to their spots and were ready for their shots. No one was selfish.”
Barton also got 11 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocked shots from 6-foot-2 junior Shanika Peterkin, who notched her 12th double-double in 15 games. Senior guard Summer Baer, accurate on 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range, drilled in 17 points.
Second-year Converse assistant coach Mendy McNeese said the Valkyries tried new defensive wrinkles to keep the ball out of Peterkin’s hands.
“She didn’t beat us,” McNeese declared. “It was the other players.
“We knew it was going to be tough here. (Barton) is a great team and (Saintsing) does a great job. She’s a legend.
“We’ve played some good teams tough and we’ve lost some tight games. But seniors don’t play most of our minutes. When you’re on the road, you feel like you are already 15 points down and you need to start strong. We’re not there yet.”
Tham-Morrobel was prominent among the “other players” that troubled Converse.
“Jami played well,” Saintsing remarked. “She always plays hard and does what she can do. I still sometimes yell at her, but she doesn’t attempt to do things she knows she can’t do. She’s pretty steady.”
“I worked hard, got to the spots I needed to be and got the shots I wanted,” evaluated Tham-Morrobel, who has been mentioned as the Lady Bulldogs’ most improved player this season.
“I have more confidence,” she reasoned. “I am more comfortable with my teammates and with learning the system. It just got a little scrappy out there and I was just trying to outwork my opponent.”
Barton jumped to a 16-9 lead after one quarter. But, in the second quarter, the Valkyries thrice chopped the deficit to six points.
But, then, Barton’s Khayla Mitchell buried a 3-point shot and Akira Wiggins nailed a short jumper. Tham-Morrobel scored off an assist from Baer and Mitchell converted Tham-Morrobel’s steal into a layup for a 33-18 Barton cushion.
The Lady Bulldogs clicked in the third quarter, building the lead to 61-30 on a 3-pointer from Hanna McGrory. The largest margin was 36 points.
For Converse, sophomore Alexis McMillian managed a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Bhrianna Jackson added 10 points.
Saintsing expressed disappointment that the Valkyries claimed 24 offensive rebounds in winning the battle of the boards, 48-44. However, Barton blocked 13 shots and recorded 11 steals. Converse shot 23% from the floor as compared to 45% for Barton.
“We’re working on it,” Saintsing expressed of the Lady Bulldogs generating momnetum. “We need to take advantage of games like this in which we can get better. We didn’t do that tonight.”
But there is no apprehension about the roadstand. Veteran assistant coach Daniel Colvin insists the Lady Bulldogs play better away from home. Saintsing concurs.
“We play pretty good on the road for some reason,” Saintsing said. “We play a little more focused.”
Hardin 7, Jackson 10, McMillian 12, Sides, Davenport 2, Collins 2, Nardella 8, Rogers 2, Hill 2, King 2, Jennings-Shuler, Pattillo.
Wiggins 6, Gaines 8, Peterkin 11, Baer 17, Tham-Morrobel 18, Doss 1, Jones, Keller 2, Roberson 1, Mitchell 5, McGrory 3, Ferguson, Gladney, Morris.
Score by quarters:
Converse 9 14 7 17 — 47
Barton 16 21 26 9 — 72