by Kevin Buczek
ASHEVILLE, N.C.-In a battle of Bulldogs, Barton College of the NCAA Division II ranks gave the much bigger host Bulldogs a struggle before DI University of North Carolina at Asheville closed out the game with a 16-2 run to escape with a 71-48 women's basketball victory Monday night in Kimmel Arena.
Barton trailed by 16 at halftime but closed the deficit to within single digits late before UNCA survived with its strong finish.
BC scored nine consecutive points starting with a senior Shadawn Clanton three-pointer and two free throws by classmate Brianna Thomas. Sophomore Shatisha Dukes added a layup before freshman Alexis Johnson finished off the rally with her own layup at the 5:36 mark to make the score 55-46.
However, a three-point play by Shonese Jones on UNCA's ensuing possession put the hosts back up by double digits for the final five minutes. Jones scored a game-high 22 points including all three of her team's 3-pointers and seven points in the game-ending 16-2 surge.
Johnson led Barton with 12 points and seven rebounds. Senior Kaila Lea added 11 points before fouling out with just under five minutes left.
Nine total Barton Bulldogs scored on the DI hardwood including sophomore Tiffany Webster (6 points), sophomore Caila Carter (5), Dukes (5), Clanton (3), Thomas (2), freshman Chanel Shannon (2) and freshman Deja Jeanpierre (2).
A 20-foot jumper by Shannon from the left wing gave Barton the initial 2-0 lead and a putback by Carter on BC's next possession extended the early advantage to 4-1. The visiting Lady Bulldogs continued to cling to a three-point edge at 6-3 after Lea swished a pair of free throws but UNCA scored the contests next four points to take its first lead about five minutes into play.
Barton was able to deadlock the score twice after that point but was never able to regain the lead on the hosts. Jeanpierre first knotted the score at 8-8 after canning two consecutive free throws while Johnson leveled the score for the final time at 11-11 by completing an old-fashion three point play.
After Johnson's putback and free throw, Barton only made one more field goal over the final 13 minutes. UNC Asheville closed the period on a 23-7 run over that span to take control. Sophomore Tiffany Webster scored BC's final hoop with a layup at the 11:07 mark but the visiting Lady Bulldogs would then miss their final 15 attempts from the floor.
UNC Asheville had eight players score in the first 20 minutes and a last-second layup by Tiffany Wilson increased the host Bulldogs advantage to 16 at halftime (34-18). Wilson led all players into the locker room with seven points.
KJ Weaver and Brittany Gwyn added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the victorious Bulldogs.
UNCA shot 40.4% from the field while holding BC to just 24.6%. However, the visiting Lady Bulldogs did have a hot hand from the charity stripe converting 17 of 18 free throws for a stellar 94.4%. UNC Asheville also finished with a 48-37 rebounding edge while also taking advantage of 23 Barton fouls by making 22 of 28 free throws (78.6%).
Webster also led Barton with three assists and two steals.
UNCA (1-3 overall) picked up its first win and Barton (1-4) dropped its fourth straight contest.
Barton will return to action after the Thanksgiving Break and will make its home debut against Conference Carolinas newcomer Emmanuel College on Monday, December 1 at 5:30 p.m. (recently revised schedule originally slated for Dec. 2).