Lady Bulldogs spill first-place Abbey

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BELMONT — In a showdown of the NCAA Division lI Conference Carolinas’ top two teams, the visiting Barton College women’s basketball team spilled first-place Belmont Abbey, 64-58, on Wednesday night.

The Lady Bulldogs of 30th-year head coach Wendee Saintsing rallied from a 52-46 deficit after three quarters to pull within one game of the Lady Crusaders and slip a half-game ahead of third-place University of Mount Olive.

The revenge win lifted Barton to 11-4 in the conference and to 18-4 overall. Belmont Abbey sits atop the conference at 12-3 and stands 15-7 against all foes.

Barton found a way to win on a night in which it did not sparkle statistically. The Lady Bulldogs lost the rebounding battle 51-36; connected on but 25-of-65 shots from the floor for 38.5-percent accuracy; knocked down just 3-of-16 attempts from 3-point range and canned but 11-of-21 free throws. 

Belmont Abbey was no better, hitting 24-of-65 shots from the floor for 37 percent; sinking 4-of-15 attempts beyond the arc and connecting on 6-of-7 free throws.

A critical difference was Barton’s 10 turnovers as compared to 21 for the Lady Crusaders.

The Lady Bulldogs posted a 20-16 edge after one quarter but clung to a 29-28 advantage at halftime. Belmont Abbey played its best in the third quarter in rallying to the six-point margin. However, the Lady Crusaders managed only six points in the final quarter.

Hitting 11-of-18 shots from the floor, 6-foot senior Kianna Wynn paced Barton with a game-high 23 points. Her 10 rebounds gave her a double-double.

Senior guard Dinah Neal netted 17 points and notched three steals. Freshman Akira Wiggins paced Barton with four steals. The Lady Bulldogs owned a 13-1 margin in steals.

Belmont Abbey was paced by Maria Kuhlman with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Keyanna Spivey added 14 points and Brittany Autry scored 10.

Barton continues conference play when it observes Senior Day at 2 p.m. Saturday in Wilson Gymnasium against Southern Wesleyan (South Carolina).