by Benny Benton
BANNER ELK, N.C. – Sophomore Kendall Patterson drained consecutive 3-pointers to give Barton College the lead late in overtime and junior Jake Veasley sank two free throws with seven seconds left to finish off a 95-92 Conference Carolinas victory for the Bulldogs at Lees-McRae College Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Daniel Westbrook scored all 12 of his points in the game's first 22 minutes to lead Barton (7-5, 3-1) back from a 15-point first-half deficit, and freshman Danny Shand scored 21 of his team-high 24 points in the second period to help the Bulldogs reach the extra period.
Veasley finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds, while Patterson recorded 13 points. Senior Ryan Canoy contributed two critical steals in addition to 13 points and five rebounds, and senior Khari Faison grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to go with seven points and two blocks.
Sean Deniton scored two of his 19 points for the Bobcats (5-5, 1-3) on a layup with four-tenths of a second left in regulation to send the game to overtime, and added a 3-pointer to pull LMC back within one with 31 seconds to go in the extra period.
Lees-McRae's leading scorer, Jacquise Moore, matched Barton's Shand with a game-high 24 points, and also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Kendall Isler added 14 points and six boards for the Bobcats, and Chad Hicks added 11 points before fouling out, most of those on a trio of 3-pointers.
After driving to the basket for the game-tying basket to end regulation, Deniton made another layup to open overtime and give the Bobcats a two-point lead, but Veasley completed a three-point play to give Barton a one-point cushion. That lead change was the first of four on consecutive possessions before the Bulldogs missed a pair of chances and Moore made a layup for LMC to put the Bobcats up by three, 89-86.
A free throw by Shand cut the Barton deficit to two, and both teams missed a pair of shots on their next possession. The Bulldogs received a third opportunity on their possession, and Patterson made it count with a 3-pointer to put BC back in front, 90-89.
Canoy then came up with a steal and passed it forward to Shand, who dished to Patterson for another 3-pointer that gave Barton the biggest lead of the overtime period for either side, 93-89.
That advantage lasted just six seconds, however, as Deniton responded with a 3-pointer of his own to pull Lees-McRae back to within one at 93-92 with 31 seconds to go.
Barton turned the ball over on its next possession, giving the Bobcats a chance to regain the lead. However, Canoy stepped in front of a Deniton pass for the steal with eight seconds to play. Canoy quickly passed the ball to Veasley, who was immediately fouled. The 77 percent free throw shooter calmly sank both attempts to complete a 7-of-11 day at the line, giving the Bulldogs a big three-point cushion.
Moore managed to elevate above two Barton defenders to get a decent look at a game-tying 3-pointer with two seconds remaining, but the ball rimmed off and the Bulldogs escaped with a big conference road win.
A victory for the Royal Blue and White did not seem possible after a terrible start to the game. The Bulldogs missed their first four shots and turned the ball over twice, while Lees-McRae made its first five attempts in rolling out to an 11-0 lead just three minutes into play.
The frigid shooting continued throughout the first 11 minutes of the half, with Barton making just 3-of-19 attempts (15.7 percent) from the field over that span. At the same time, Lees-McRae shot 55 percent in rolling out to its biggest lead of the contest, 25-10, with 8:43 left before intermission.
A 3-pointer by Veasley and a layup by Daniel McClendon finally gave Barton consecutive made baskets for the first time in the game 13 minutes in, the start of an 8-0 run that cut the deficit in half with 5:52 left in the period.
Lees-McRae built its lead back to 10 on three more occasions in the half, and led by eight with just 2:21 left in the half. However, Barton used a layup and two free throws by Faison to cut the deficit in half, and erased the rest of it after Westbrook was fouled on a made 3-pointer with 32 seconds left before intermission.
The four-point play for Westbrook gave him a team-high eight points for the period, and the hometown product from Wilson started the second half with four more points on consecutive baskets, both putbacks of offensive rebounds.
The first of those two baskets gave Barton its first lead of the game, 37-35. Lees-McRae moved back in front at 44-43 on a dunk by Moore with 16:35 left, but Veasley answered with a 3-pointer that sparked a 13-3 run, giving Barton its biggest lead of the night, 56-46, with 15:44 left.
Veasley also made three free throws during the spurt, while Shand added a 3-pointer and a layup. The Bobcats, meanwhile, missed three shots and turned the ball over twice.
The Bulldogs still enjoyed a seven-point cushion with 11:34 left when the shooting went cold again. BC missed five consecutive shots from the floor and made just 1-of-4 attempts from the line, allowing Lees-McRae to rally and tie the game at 63-all with just under nine minutes remaining.
From there, the lead changed hands five times, with neither side gaining more than a four-point cushion. Barton held the final lead of regulation, taking a one-point cushion on a jumper by Shand with 47 seconds left. The Bulldogs extended their lead to four from the free throw line, but a 3-pointer by Deniton with 11 seconds left trimmed the LMC deficit back to just one at 80-79.
Barton nearly turned the ball over at midcourt on the ensuing possession, but the ball went off a Lees-McRae defender. The Bulldogs then got the ball inbounds to Shand. The freshman, who had made four in a row in the final minute, missed the first attempt but made the second, giving BC an 81-79 lead with seven seconds left.
Lees-McRae got the ball immediately to Deniton, who drove all the way in to the basket. Barton contested the layup, but did not forcefully challenge for fear of a potential game-ending three-point play. The ball went into the basket with four-tenths of a second left to tie the game at 81-all, not enough time for BC to get off another shot.
Despite its terrible shooting start, Barton finished the night making 42 percent from the field (30 of 72) while Lees-McRae shot 47 percent (34 of 72).
The Bobcats had two glaring numbers stand out on the stat sheet. Lees-McRae entered the contest ranked ninth in the nation in turnovers with an average of just 10.4 per game, but handed the ball over 16 times against Barton's pressure defense. Lees-McRae also entered the game as the top free throw shooting team in the conference at 74 percent, but made just 59 percent (17 of 29) in Saturday's contest.
Barton continues its road trip on Sunday with a 2 p.m. matchup in Bristol, Tenn., against the Conference Carolinas leader, King University. The Tornado (9-2, 4-0) manhandled nationally-ranked No. 21 University of Mount Olive on Saturday in a nationally-televised game, 91-73, to become the only team left without a conference loss.