by Cory Guinn
MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Senior Brianna Thomas recorded her fourth double-double of the season and the Barton College women's basketball team shot 45 percent from three-point range (9-for-20) en route to a 77-69 victory over in-state rival University of Mount Olive on Wednesday night.
The Lady Bulldogs (10-12, 9-6) opened the game on a 14-6 run over the first four minutes of play, highlighted by back-to-back three pointers from freshman Tatyana Jackson and senior Kaila Lea on consecutive possessions.
Barton's lead extended to a nine-point advantage on a three-pointer from freshman Deja Jeanpierre with 11:38 to play in the half.
Mount Olive (9-13, 7-9) was unable to get any closer than a five-point deficit as the Lady Bulldog's grew to as large as 16 with 1:26 left on the clock. Trojans' point guard Ni'ya Styles hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the halftime score 38-25 in favor of the visiting Lady Bulldogs.
The Barton offense shot 51.6 percent from the floor in the first half and forced nine Mount Olive turnovers to hold the 13-point lead at intermission.
Barton was able to keep the momentum going early, opening the second half on a 7-2 run to extend their lead to 45-27 on two free throws by Lea with 16:33 to play in the game.
The 18-point lead would be Barton's largest of the game as Mount Olive cut the deficit to single digits with just over nine minutes on the clock. Another free throw from Lea pushed the Barton lead back to double-digits minutes later but the Trojans would not go away silently.
The Trojans would get as close a four-point margin multiple times in the final minute but the Lady Bulldogs hit 5-of-7 free throw attempts in the closing seconds to seal the win.
As a team, Barton shot 47.4 percent from the floor in addition to its hot night from long range. The Lady Bulldogs limited the Mount Olive offense to 36.4 percent shooting from the floor and forcing the Trojans into 17 turnovers.
Thomas led the charge with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, with 10 rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes off of the bench.
Lea followed with 14 points of her own, while Jackson totaled 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Tiffany Webster rounded out the double-digit scorers for Barton with 11 points and five assists of her own in 31 minutes of action.
The Lady Bulldogs will return home this weekend for a matchup with conference opponent Southern Wesleyan University at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7 in Wilson Gymnasium.