by Benny Benton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Barton College senior Kaila Lea scored 19 points and freshman Alexis Johnson made an impressive collegiate debut with 18 points and seven rebounds as the Lady Bulldogs cruised past host Queens University, 68-43, Friday night during its season-opener at the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge.
Lea added five rebounds and four steals, while Johnson chipped in three steals. Sophomore Tiffany Webster contributed 14 points and a game-high six steals, and sophomore Caila Carter joined Johnson with a game-high seven rebounds.
Lacey Singletary scored 13 points for Queens, 11 of those coming in the first half.
The Lady Bulldogs used their pressure defense to force the Royals into 28 turnovers, and scored 30 points off those miscues. Barton also enjoyed a 39-36 edge in rebounds, 21 of those coming on the offensive glass and accounting for 18 second-chance points.
BC never trailed in the game, as Lea scored the game's first five points and her team's first seven. A steal and layup by Webster and an offensive putback by Johnson gave Barton a quick 11-3 edge just four minutes into the contest.
A McKell Oliverio 3-pointer and a layup by Singletary cut the deficit for Queens to 11-8, and the margin was still three when a jumper by Lea and a layup by Johnson extended the lead to seven. The Royals made a pair of free throws, but a 3-pointer by Shadawn Clanton pushed the Barton advantage back to eight, and a layup by Shatisha Dukes pushed the lead into double-digits for the first time, 23-13, with 7:46 left in the half.
The Lady Bulldogs missed their next three shots and turned the ball over twice, allowing Queens to go on a 7-0 run and close the gap to just three at 27-24, but Johnson stopped the spurt with a layup. Brianna Thomas scored for BC on a jumper after a shot and Webster drained a 3-pointer to quickly push the Barton lead back to 10 at 34-24 with 1:29 remaining before intermission.
A free throw for Queens cut the halftime margin to nine, 34-25, and two more free throws to start the second period pulled the Royals within seven. However, Lea sank a 3-pointer, and Barton led by double-digits the rest of the way. The advantage grew to 20 with just under nine minutes to play and reached 25 with 1:40 to go, as Queens managed just 18 points in the second half.
Barton shot 43 percent from the field (30 of 70), but that came despite a 5-of-21 effort from 3-point range (24 percent). The Lady Bulldogs also made just 3-of-8 from the line (38 percent), one of the few flaws in the opening-night performance.
The SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge will continue on Saturday, with Barton taking on Catawba College on the neutral court at Queens at 2 p.m. The Indians downed University of Mount Olive, 75-65, in their matchup on Friday.