by Benny Benton
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – The Barton College men's basketball team produced a season-low 53 points on Friday in suffering a 63-53 Conference Carolinas road loss at University of Mount Olive.
The Bulldogs (19-9, 14-6) shot just 34 percent from the field (20 of 59), 27 percent from 3-point range (4 of 15) and 47 percent from the line (9 of 19) in falling to their biggest rivals.
Mount Olive (9-19, 8-12) wasn't much better from the floor, making just 38 percent overall (21 of 55) and 25 percent from 3-point range (4 of 16). However, the Trojans sank 17 of 21 attempts from the charity stripe (81 percent), accounting for eight points of their 10-point victory margin.
Ironically, it was Barton who made 14 of 15 from the line (93 percent) in an 80-74 win over the Trojans in Wilson last week, and it was the Bulldogs who came into the contest as the top free throw shooting team in the league for the season at 76.3 percent.
As a result of its struggles on offense, Barton lost to a team scoring 63 points or less for the first time in 12 years (Queens University on Feb. 14, 2005).
Senior Daniel Westbrook and freshman Michael Boykin provided the majority of the scoring for the Bulldogs, combining for 33 of the 53 points. Westbrook recorded his fifth double-double in the past six games, collecting 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Wilson native also recorded four blocks. Boykin posted a game-high 17 points and claimed seven rebounds.
Saiquan Jamison led Mount Olive with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The double-digit final margin was not indicative of the game overall, as there were 11 ties and 10 lead changes in the contest,
Neither team enjoyed a lead of more than four points until two free throws by Jamison with seven seconds left in the first half put UMO up by six, 26-20, and that margin only lasted five seconds before Barton's Tashawn Sampson drained a 3-pointer that sent the two teams to intermission with Mount Olive holding a three-point edge, 26-23.
Barton scored the first six points of the second half to move back in front, and the two sides traded the lead back and forth through the first half of the second period.
The Bulldogs held their last lead at 43-42 following a layup by Isaiah Buck-Lowman with 9:34 remaining. Tyler Thomas completed a three-point play on the other end with nine minutes left to put the Trojans in front to stay.
Two technical free throws for Mount Olive and an offensive putback on the ensuing possession for the Trojans pushed the margin to six, and a jumper by Thomas after BC missed two free throws extended the UMO lead to eight.
The Mount Olive advantage reached 10 for the first time following a steal and layup by Jamison with 4:57 to play. Barton cut its deficit to five on two occasions down the stretch, the final time at 57-52 with 36 seconds left after two Boykin free throws, but the Trojans went 6-of-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.
In another bit of irony, Mount Olive's win over Barton, coupled with Lees-McRae College's loss to King University on Friday, moved the Trojans from the No. 7 seed to the No. 6 seed for next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament. That leaves UMO with a matchup against the No. 3 seed, which happens to be Barton.
So the rivals will meet for a third time this season on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Wilson, each side hoping to advance towards a league tournament title opportunity. The two teams last met in the conference tournament in 2012, when Barton won at Mount Olive, 67-60, in the championship game.