by Cory Guinn
WILSON, N.C. – The Lady Bulldogs turned 23 Converse miscues into 30 points off of turnovers as Barton ended its three-game home stand with a 69-54 victory over the Valkyries on Wednesday night in Wilson Gymnasium.
Despite starting the contest 2-of-11 from the floor, Barton (9-11, 8-5) remained tied with Converse at 6-6 just six minutes into the game. The Valkyries broke the tie with an 8-0 run to earn its largest lead of the half with 12:25 left on the clock.
Barton responded with a 14-4 run of its own over a six minutes stretch to claim a 20-18 lead after back-to-back free throws from sophomore center Shatisha Dukes.
The Valkyries (2-14, 1-12) tied the game seconds later before a three-pointer from senior Kaila Lea put the Lady Bulldogs ahead for the remainder of the half as Barton carried a 36-28 lead into the halftime break.
Converse and Barton played to six ties over the game's first 20 minutes of action, as the Valkyries shot 50 percent from the floor in the half compared to 44.4 percent shooting by the Lady Bulldogs. Converse also held a 24-18 advantage over Barton on points in the paint, but the Lady Bulldog defense forced 14 turnovers to hold the eight-point lead.
Lea opened the second half with two straight baskets to push the Barton lead to 40-28 before the Valkyries could respond with a three-pointer of their own. A 15-3 run for the Lady Bulldogs soon followed as Barton's lead grew to 55-36 with 11:25 remaining in the game.
The double-digit lead continued to hold for Barton, as the lead extended to as large as a 23-point advantage at the 5:31 mark as the Lady Bulldogs held on for the 15-point victory on their home floor.
As a team, Barton shot 45.2 percent from the floor, scoring 38 points in the paint and 26 bench points. In comparison, Converse was held to 36.8 percent shooting in the game, but the Valkyries did hold a 45-30 advantage in the rebounding category.
Dukes led all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and a career-high five blocks in 29 minutes of play.
Senior forward Brianna Thomas followed with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting off of the bench, while sophomore Tiffany Webster totaled 12 points and four assists. Lea rounded out the double-digit scorers for Barton with 11 points of her own to go along with six rebounds and four steals.
Barton will be on the road for its next two contests, beginning with a weekend road trip to Franklin Springs, Ga. The Lady Bulldogs matchup with Emmanuel College on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 2 p.m.