by Doug Page
WILSON, N.C. – Barton College punched its ticket to the 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship with an 83-68 victory on Friday against No. 4 seed King University. No. 3 seed Barton captured the Conference Carolinas Championship on its home-court as the Bulldogs will make their seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament under the direction of head coach Wendee Saintsing.
The victory was the 500th of Saintsing's career at Barton as the 29th-year head coach became the 12th active NCAA Division II coach and 30th in Division II history to reach the 500-victory plateau. Saintsing has guided the women's basketball program to 23 winning seasons during her tenure and notched ten 20-win seasons at BC.
PICTURED: Head Coach Wendee Saintsing celebrates her teams victory against King with redshirt junior Alonna Terrell. | Photo by Carl Copeland
"I really didn't want this tournament, or this game, to be about my 500th victory or myself at all", noted Saintsing after taking some time to reflect on Bulldogs' win. "It couldn't have been more amazing though to get this milestone win in a game such as this one. I've truly been blessed over the years with the athletes that have played here at Barton." "Daniel Colvin has been a major part of our success over the years and has contributed to a lot of the wins. I've had a lot of help along the way and I haven't won any games on my own, so to get to this point is truly amazing and I'm thankful for the people and the athletes that have helped me along the way."
Barton (23-8) will learn its seeding for the tournament on March 4 during the NCAA Selection Show which will begin at 10 p.m. Following the game, the league announced the All-Championship Team as Junior Dinah Neal and senior Tatyana Jackson each earned spots on the team, while junior Kianna Wynn was named the Championship Most Outstanding Player.
Neal dropped a game-high 20 points for BC on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor and went 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. Neal also added six rebounds and three assists, while Wynn notched a double-double of 24 points and 14 boards for Barton. Redshirt senior Alex Kimble went 4-of-6 from downtown in the contest for BC and tallied 14 points, while Jackson added eight points and a game-high four assists. Senior Karimah Dean matched Wynn by pulling down 14 boards to go along with eight points.
Arnelle Collins paced the Tornado (17-13) with 22 points and three assists, while Taylor Freeman added 13 points and six rebounds for King. Kristen Cupples tallied 11 points for King, while Kori West and Che' Davis combined for 14 rebounds. Amy Van Deventer notched a team-high 10 rebounds for the Tornado in the contest.
The lead would switch hands several times in the first quarter as Cupples drained a trey to give King a 7-5 advantage before Kimble answered with her second trey of the quarter to give BC an 8-7 lead. Neal would put Barton ahead 16-14 with 5:08 left in the quarter and lead to the Bulldogs opening a four-point cushion as Wynn hit a pair of shots at the charity stripe. The Tornado closed the quarter on a 7-2 run and would take a 21-20 edge into the second quarter.
King upped its lead to 24-20 early in the quarter before Wynn would hit consecutive layups to knot the score with 8:17 left before the half. Less than a minute later, Neal made good on a pair of free-throws to give Barton a two-point edge. After seeing the Tornado take a 27-26 lead on the heels of a trey from Cupples, Barton used an 8-0 run to gain the lead and momentum.
Collins ended a four-minute scoreless drought for King with a pair of free-throws trim the BC lead to 34-29 with 3:09 to play. Redshirt junior Alonna Terrell hit a layup with 2:03 left to increase the Barton lead to 38-31. Neal gave Barton a nine-point lead with 39 ticks left on the clock to send BC into the half with a 42-33 advantage.
The clinching run of the game for Barton would start with 8:05 left in the third quarter as Kimble drained a trey to give the Bulldogs a 48-38 lead. The shot would spark a 15-0 run by the Bulldogs, who saw Terrell cap the rally with a layup to make it 60-38 Barton. Freeman ended the run by BC with a layup to cut the deficit to 20 points. Wynn tallied the final three points of the quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play to give BC a 70-50 lead going into the final quarter.
King would outscore Barton 18-13 in the fourth quarter and work to eventually trim the gap to 15 points before the final buzzer sounded. Wynn tallied the final points of the contest for BC as her layup with 1:48 left to play made it 83-61. The Tornado closed the game on a 7-0 run over the final 1:26 of play.
Barton used a 50-29 advantage on the scoreboard between the second and third quarter to put its mark on the contest. The Bulldogs shot 39.7 percent from the field and made 86.4 percent of its free-throws, while King shot 37.8 percent from the field but converted just 31.3 percent of its free-throws. BC tallied 19 points off King turnovers in the contest and added 20 second-chance points. The Bulldogs also held a slight advantage in points scored in the paint (42-38) while tallying 16 fast break points.