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FRANKLIN, Ga. — Hours after being named Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, DeQuan Abrom made the play of the year for his Belmont Abbey team and ended the year for the Barton Bulldogs in the semifinals of the conference tournament Saturday afternoon.
With time running out and the second-seeded Crusaders trailing by a point at Williamson Arena on the Emmanuel College campus, Abrom drove the left side of the lane, drawing three Barton defenders on him. But he was able to thread a pass into the lane to teammate John Bowen for the eventual game-winning layup with 4.2 seconds left and deliver a 77-76 win for the No. 2-seeded Crusaders. Barton, the No. 3 seed, had one last chance but a 3-point attempt by senior Zach Grant was off the mark and came after the buzzer.
The Bulldogs, who led 50-38 at the half and by as many 13 points in the second half, saw the end of their eight-game winning streak as they finished the season with a 22-8 record. Abbey (23-7) moved into Sunday’s championship game where the Crusaders were stopped 75-72 by top-seeded Emmanuel, which was in its first year of NCAA postseason eligibility.
Barton had led since the 10:45 mark of the first half until Abbey’s Ben Ferguson drained a 3-point shot to tie it up at 72-all with 2:43 to go in the game. After the teams traded baskets, Abrom made a three-point play to give the Crusaders a 75-74 lead with 1:33 left.
Barton senior Matt Woods snagged the rebound off an Abbey miss with 36 seconds and then was fouled on the offensive with 12 seconds. He converted both ends of the one-and-one to put the Bulldogs back in front, but it was only briefly as Abrom and Bowen had the final say.
Junior Michael Boykin led Barton with 22 points while senior Bobby Stenborg, playing his final game, had 18 points and 13 rebounds. He was named to the all-tournament team.
Abrom finished with 32 points for Abbey.
Barton’s Stenborg and sophomore Jake Kakar were named to the All-Conference Carolinas second team Saturday while Boykin and sophomore Isaiah Reddish landed on the third team.
It was the second all-conference selection for Stenborg, who was a first-team pick last season. He averaged 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Boykin was the conference’s freshman of the year in 2017 while this was the first postseason honor for Kakar and Reddish. Kakar, the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, set a Bulldogs record this season with 87 3-pointers.