by Benny Benton
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Led by 10 second-half points from Michael Boykin, the Barton College men's basketball team rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat Saint Augustine's University, 73-64, Friday in the first round of the 51st Annual Pickle Classic at University of Mount Olive.
Boykin, a freshman guard from nearby Clinton, N.C., scored all 10 of those second-half points in a span of less than four and a half minutes, leading the Bulldogs (1-2) on a 14-4 run that turned a five-point deficit, 48-43, into a five-point lead, 57-52.
Saint Augustine's (1-2) pulled within two points or closer on two more occasions down the stretch, but each time Barton senior Nick Ellison pulled down a key offensive rebound and scored two points, once on free throws and once on a putback. The Westminster, Md., resident finished the night with six points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
After Ellison's putback with 3:33 remaining gave BC a 64-59 lead, Kasey Bryant cut the St. Aug's deficit to three points with a jumper in the paint. However, Barton answered with a 3-pointer by Daniel Westbrook, and R.J. Claypool collected a steal on SAU's next possession that led to a Matt Woods fast-break layup and a 69-61 Bulldog edge with 1:57 left.
Boykin finished the night with a team-high 14 points and four assists. Claypool added 12 points, and Westbrook contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Zach Grant also chipped in a career-high nine points in the victory.
Barton rallied by holding Saint Augustine's to 25 percent shooting in the second half (7 of 28) after allowing 43 percent in the first half, including 50 percent from 3-point range (5 of 10) in the opening frame.
Ken Collins had three of those first-half 3-pointers for the Falcons and finished the night with four that accounted for all 12 of his points. Anthony Gaskins tossed in a game-high 22 points, with 17 of those coming in the first half.
Gaskins scored seven straight points for the Falcons during a 9-0 run that turned a 17-11 deficit into a 20-17 lead for Saint Augustine's. Barton tied the game at 20-all on a layup by Grant, but SAU immediately went on another 8-0 run, capped by a Collins 3-pointer, to pull in front 28-20 with 7:17 left in the half.
The Saint Augustine's lead reached 10 on two occasions, and the Falcons took a 41-33 cushion into intermission. However, things quickly turned at the start of the second half, as SAU made just one of its first seven shots, allowing Barton to go on an 8-2 run and close within two, 43-41, just 4:15 into the period.
The Falcons finally got going and moved out to a 48-43 lead on a jumper by Chris Melton before Boykin led the Bulldogs on their big run to take control.
Barton shot 40 percent in the contest compared to 35 percent for Saint Augustine's. The Bulldogs also enjoyed a healthy rebounding edge, 49 to 38. The Falcons held the advantage in turnovers, 9 to 11.
The Bulldogs will continue play in the Pickle Classic on Saturday, taking on Georgian Court in a 5 p.m. matchup.