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Undefeated Barton College worked its way to a 62-54 women’s basketball triumph against Chowan University in Wilson Gym on Monday evening.
The Lady Bulldogs, ranked No. 5 in the Southeast Region poll and off to their best start in eight years at 6-0, were left little choice but to work by a tough-minded, tenacious Chowan team of the NCAA Division II CIAA that will join Barton and 10 other schools in Div. II Conference Carolinas next season.
Yet, Barton trailed just once — late in the opening quarter — in notching its sixth win and dealing the Hawks their fourth loss against three wins. The Lady Bulldogs welcome Fayetteville State at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“They’re a good team defensively,” 30th-year Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing said of Chowan. “They make you work extremely hard and they hustle after everything. They probably got more 50-50 balls than we did. They will do well in their league.”
The Lady Bulldogs dialed long distance, with junior Summer Baer on the line, to jump to an 8-0 lead — holding Chowan scoreless the first five minutes and six seconds.
Barton erased its only deficit (12-10) to spurt to a 30-25 halftime lead. The Lady Bulldogs managed to trot into intermission out front although leading scorer Kianna Wynn, a 6-foot senior averaging 21.8 points per game, did not tally her first field goal until nearly 17 minutes had elapsed.
In the final two quarters, the Lady Bulldogs seldom looked for a 3-point shot. Senior guards Carmen Richardson and Dinah Neal concentrated upon finding Wynn inside.
Wynn, with only four points the first half, wound up with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds. Richardson, from Rocky Mount High, doled out a season-high 11 assists and Neal added six.
“In the first half, we were having trouble getting the ball inside because of spacing and because we rushed a lot of stuff,” explained Richardson, who added six points, six rebounds and two steals. “When we take our time and our eyes are wide open, it’s pretty easy to get in there. We play a lot of inside-out — that’s where we are most comfortable. Everything else falls in place.”
Baer’s pair of 3-pointers and spectacular reverse layup ignited Barton to its 8-0 start. But led by 6-0 senior Danielle Weldon, their leading scorer, the Hawks clawed back, seizing the 12-10 lead on senior Jordan Pettaway’s putback.
But a 3-pointer from freshman Akira Wiggins, two free throws from Neal and a field goal from 5-11 freshman Jami Tham shot Barton to a 17-14 edge after one quarter.
Chowan went without a field goal the first five minutes of the second quarter and Barton’s lead reached 25-15 on freshman Lauryn Cross’ 3-pointer. The Hawks, however, capitalized on Barton’s ragged play to chop the deficit to 30-25 at halftime on Jahkeric Bagby’s putback.
Foul problems promptly surfaced for Weldon, who picked up her third and fourth personals in the third quarter. Barton zipped to its biggest lead of 41-30 when Wiggins scored off an assist from Baer.
“Danielle’s foul problems were big because of the timing,” contended third-year Chowan head coach LaToya Jones. “We were getting momentum.”
Still, Chowan crept as close as five points in the third quarter and trailed only 54-51 in the final period when senior Jada Lee fired in her only field goal.
However, Weldon fouled out when Wynn notched a three-point play with 3:36 showing. Six straight points from Wynn pushed Barton to a 50-41 margin.
The Lady Bulldogs stayed out front with the help of two blocks from 6-2 sophomore Shanika Peterkin and a pair of free throws from Richardson.
“I can knock down some shots,” Richardson reflected on her performance. “Too many turnovers but I can take care of that.”
Barton matched 23 assists with 23 turnovers and battled to a 43-38 rebounding edge. Chowan took 20 more shots from the floor, but shot for 33-percent accuracy as compared to 43 percent for Barton. The Lady Bulldogs outscored Chowan 16-6 from the foul line.
“In the second half, we were better,” Saintsing reviewed. “We took a little bit better care of the basketball — at times. The last two games, we have not played well. Tonight was a good game for us to play.”
Weldon managed 11 points for Chowan and Pettaway netted 10.
“Our effort didn’t show up on the stat sheet,” Chowan’s Jones noted. “We knew Barton was a good team, but we’re a good team, too. We matched up well and we knew it would be a fight. We bounced back (from foul woes that arose in defending Wynn), and it came down to fouls and free throws. They scored too many points with the clock stopped.”