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With redshirt senior Alex Kimble continuing to have a hot hand and 6-foot-2 freshman center Shanika Peterkin posting historical numbers, the Barton women’s basketball team reeled off its seventh straight win with a convincing 90-79 victory over NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas archrival Mount Olive on Wednesday in Wilson Gym.
The victory pushed Barton’s record to 10-5 overall and into third place alone in Conference Carolinas at 5-2, a game ahead of the Trojans (6-9, 4-3 CC).
“We knew from the beginning of the year that we had the potential to have a good year,” Barton veteran head coach Wendee Saintsing said. “We didn’t get off to a great start (3-5), but now that we have everybody back, we’re figuring out what we need to do and how we need to do it.”
Kimble drained five 3-point shots on her way to a team-high 29 points while Peterkin came up with one of the few triple-doubles in Lady Bulldogs’ history under Saintsing, in her 29th season. The freshman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocks, leading Saintsing and longtime assistant coach Daniel Colvin to ruminate over whether it had been done before. Their best guess was three-time all-conference performer Keauna Vinson, Colvin’s step-daughter, who averaged a double-double in her illustrious Barton career.
“We remember that Keauna had a 10-game steal one time,” Saintsing said. “I think that’s our only other triple double.”
While Peterkin is a long way from being the next Keauna Vinson at Barton, the freshman has quickly developed into a terror in the paint for Barton’s opponents, averaging 8.2 points, 11 rebounds and 5.8 blocks in the Lady Bulldogs’ five games since Christmas.
“Defensively, she was awesome,” Saintsing said of Peterkin’s performance Wednesday. “She got six easy points just by running the court and beating their posts down for layups.
“Shanika helps the guards and the posts out by covering a lot of space.”
Peterkin had six blocks in the third quarter when Barton turned a 49-45 halftime lead into a 70-58 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Kimble, who hit five treys in Saturday’s win over King in Wilson Gym, heated up in the second quarter as she connected on pair of 3-pointers as part of her 14 points. The second one came with just one second left in the half, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 49-45 lead.
“It took us to the locker room with some momentum,” Saintsing said.
Kimble was a sizzling 11 of 21 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
“Alex has just made up her mind that she’s going to have a good senior year and finish strong and she’s going to do what she does,” Saintsing said. “She needs to continue to to do that.”
Barton pushed its lead to as many as 12 points in the third quarter before the Trojans fought back to within seven. However, the Lady Bulldogs scored the last five points of the quarter and Kimble hit a layup to start the fourth quarter and Barton’s lead never went below double digits again.
Barton had its second-best shooting night of the season, hitting 38 of 74 field-goal attempts for 51.4-percent accuracy. That helped offset what Saintsing considered to be a subpar performance on the boards as Mount Olive outrebounded Barton 44-38.
“We were a little bit disappointed with our rebounding,” Saintsing said. “I think that we allowed too many offensive rebounds.”
Barton also overcame a 35-point performance from Mount Olive senior and Nash Central High product Ni’Ya Styles.
“Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job on Ni’Ya, even though she got 35,” Saintsing said. “She was worn down.”
Felecity Havens had 22 for the Trojans and Hope Toliver added 12 but the other six Mount Olive players combined for just 10 points.
Barton junior Kianna Wynn, a two-time all-conference first-team pick and the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorer the past two seasons, had 16 points and seven rebounds. Senior point guard Tatyana Jackson had nine points, eight assists and four rebounds.
Senior Taura Jones came off the bench for 10 points, including consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter.
“Taura hit some good shots in the first half,” Saintsing said. “It always helps if someone else is scoring 3-pointers besides Alex and Tatyana.”
After its just-concluded three-game homestand, Barton will play its first conference road game Saturday at North Greenville, followed by games at Southern Wesleyan and Emmanuel next week. In fact, the Lady Bulldogs will play just three of their final 13 games in the cozy confines of Wilson Gym.
Saintsing shrugged off the scheduling imbalance, saying, “That’s OK. We play better on the road.”