by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Barton College senior Khari Faison matched a career-high with 18 points and also collected 12 rebounds to help the Bulldogs to a 96-80 Conference Carolinas victory over visiting Lees-McRae College Friday night in Wilson Gymnasium.
The double-double was the second straight for Faison and the fourth of his two-year career with the Bulldogs.
Freshman Danny Shand led all scorers with 22 points and handed out six assists, while sophomore Daniel Westbrook added 14 points, more than half of them on four consecutive baskets that helped Barton pull away midway through the second half.
Sophomore Kendall Patterson chipped in by matching his career-high with seven assists. The Bulldogs produced 20 assists as a team on 30 made baskets, most of them leading to layups as BC scored 52 points in the paint.
With the win, Barton improved to 12-7 overall and 8-3 in the conference, maintaining third place. Lees-McRae had a five-game winning streak snapped in falling to 10-8 overall and 5-6 in league play.
The Bobcats were paced by Sean Deniton's 19 points. Raul Tutton added 16, mostly from the free throw line, where he was 12-of-17. The league's reigning player of the week, Jacquise Moore, was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting. Moore did collect seven rebounds and three steals.
Barton stormed out of the gate by scoring the game's first 11 points. The Bulldogs made six of their first seven shots, and the one that didn't go in turned into a putback for Faison. The run was capped by a dunk from Faison on an alley-oop from Patterson that brought the crowd to its feet and forced LMC to take an early timeout.
After missing their first five attempts, Lees-McRae finally got on the board with a jumper by Moore at the 16:53 mark, but two free throws by Ryan Canoy put the BC advantage right back to 11.
That was still the margin at 17-6 when the Bobcats began to climb back into the game. They were helped when Barton was called for a foul as Tutton threw up a desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. He made all three free throws, and the layups by Donte Falls and Jonathan Honore that followed quickly cut the deficit back to just four at 17-13 with just over 13 minutes left in the half.
Barton's lead bounced between four and eight points for much of the next six minutes. Lees-McRae trailed by five at 33-28 when a four-point play by Kendall Isler trimmed the margin to just one. Both teams went the next minute and a half without a basket before a 3-pointer by Keegan Crabtree completed the Bobcats' comeback, putting them into the lead for the first time in the game, 35-33.
The Bulldogs tied the game back on three occasions, but never regained the lead in the first half and went to intermission trailing by three, 48-45.
Lees-McRae scored the first two baskets of the second half on layups by Moore and Josh Gaither to take its biggest lead of the night at seven points, 52-45, but Faison scored the game's next four points and Shand added a fast-break layup following a steal to complete a 6-0 run that cut BC's deficit back to one at the 17:29 mark.
Less than two minutes later, another layup by Shand would put Barton back in front, 55-54. A free throw by Falls for LMC tied the game at 55-all, but Shand made two free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead for good, and Westbrook made baskets on each of Barton's next four possessions to help BC ease away to a five-point advantage at 65-60 with 12:08 left.
A minute later and leading by four, Shand took over for the Royal Blue and White, scoring eight straight BC points to move the Bulldogs back in front by double-digits for the first time since the first half.
Lees-McRae made one final push, cutting the deficit back to as close as six on a steal and breakaway dunk by Moore with 7:07 remaining. However, Barton soon went on an 8-0 run that included layups by Dominique Byrd, Patterson and Westbrook to put the game out of reach.
After both teams produced similar shooting numbers in the first half, Barton made nearly 60 percent from the field in the second period (16 of 27) while holding Lees-McRae to just 28 percent (12 of 43). The Bulldogs also pulled down 50 rebounds – 14 more than the Bobcats – helping offset a season-high 22 turnovers.
Barton is 8-2 in its last 10 games, and hopes to avenge one of those two setbacks when its host league co-leader King University Saturday night in the Dog House. The Tornado claimed a 111-95 shootout in the two team's first meeting this season in Bristol, Tenn.