by Benny Benton
BANNER ELK, N.C. – Barton College scored the game's first five points and never trailed in claiming a 69-47 Conference Carolinas women's basketball victory over host Lees-McRae College Saturday afternoon at Williams Gymnasium.
Senior Brianna Thomas and sophomore Kaila Lea each had 14 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs, which improved to 2-2 in the league and 3-8 overall. Thomas added seven rebounds and Lea pulled down five. Sophomore Shatisha Dukes collected her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Tiffany Webster chipped in 13 points and five rebounds.
BC limited the Bobcats (3-8, 2-3) to just 22.7 percent shooting (15 of 66) in the game, the lowest total by a Barton opponent since St. Andrews shot 22.6 percent in a 76-37 loss to the Lady Bulldogs on Feb. 12, 2012. Lees-McRae particularly struggled in the second half, making just five field goals in 33 attempts (15.2 percent).
Senior Kabrina Truesdale led LMC with 13 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, but also committed 10 turnovers. Mikayla Bennett added 10 points and Keri Belcher produced nine rebounds.
After a layup by Webster and a 3-pointer by Thomas gave Barton its quick 5-0 start, Olivia Unger made a layup for Lees-McRae to cut the deficit to 5-2 three minutes into play. However, Webster converted a three-point play on BC's next possession to increase the Barton lead to six, and the Bobcats went the next four minutes without a field goal, allowing the Lady Bulldogs to slowly pull away to a double-digit advantage.
Barton could not open a bigger lead as it shot below 40 percent in the first half as well and turned the ball over 13 times.
The Lady Bulldogs took a nine-point cushion into intermission, 32-23, and Lees-McRae pulled within eight at 36-28 on a layup by Tayler Collins with 17:47 left in the game.
However, the Bobcats did not score another point for the next seven and a half minutes, and did not make another field goal for eight minutes. By the time Belcher made the team's next field goal with 9:42 left, Barton had run away to a lead of nearly 30 points.
Lees-McRae cut that margin nearly in half, closing to within 15 points at 61-46 with 4:09 left, but scored just one point the rest of the way.
Barton shot 45 percent in the second period and 41 percent for the entire game, its second straight game above the 40 percent line that has generally separated wins and losses for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Bulldogs still committed too many turnovers (22) and produced too few assists (8), but did collect a season-high 53 rebounds.
The win moved Barton into a tie for fifth in the early-season conference standings. The Lady Bulldogs hope to move above .500 in league play with a win on Sunday at King University, which improved to 7-4 overall and 2-3 in the conference with a 69-61 win over University of Mount Olive on Saturday.