WILSON, N.C. --- The top-seeded Barton College women's basketball team countered an early second half run by eighth-seeded Lees-McRae College with an impressive spurt of its own on Tuesday night, outscoring the Bobcats by a 22-2 margin over a seven-minute span to pull away en route to an 86-62 win in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Barton (23-4) won the battle on the glass by a 48-39 margin, including a 21-17 edge on the offensive boards, while converting 28 Lees-McRae (6-20) miscues into 32 points. The Bulldogs posted a field goal percentage of 43.4 percent on the night, while limited the Bobcats to a 38.1 percent clip from the floor, including a 32.2 percent mark in the second half.
Jamila Johnson (Garner, N.C.) paced the Bulldogs with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, pacing five Bulldogs in double figures, while also dishing out a game-high six assists. Nyeshea Willie (Virginia Beach, Va.) added 14 points, five assists, and a game-high nine rebounds, while Kelsey Sill (Raleigh, N.C.) and Jannetta Robinson (Willard, N.C.) each tallied 12 markers. Jolanda Mitchell (Raleigh, N.C.) chipped in 11 points and seven boards, while Sill posted a game-high three blocks.
Janina Thurau (Berlin, Germany) led all scorers with 21 points for the Bobcats, going 8-for-17 from the floor while knocking down 5-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc in her final game with Lees-McRae. Melissa Jensen (Aarhus, Denmark) added 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Candace Flowers (Charlotte, N.C.) and Zukye Smith (Chesterfield, Va.) each added six markers and a team-high six rebounds.
Barton led nearly wire-to-wire, opening the game with an 11-5 run that was capped by a Sill layup at the 17:51 mark. The Bobcats remained within striking distance for much of the first half, cutting the lead to two points on several occasions before the Barton offense launched a 24-11 run late in the period to push the margin to 49-33 with just over a minute left on the clock.
Lees-McRae answered with a 4-0 spurt to trim the margin to 49-37 heading into the intermission following a last-second triple by Icey Patterson (Seneca, S.C.). The Bobcats carried the momentum into the second half, opening the period with an 18-9 run to cut the lead to 58-55 on a Flowers trey with 13:58 to play.
Barton responded with an impressive run of its own, jumping out to an 80-57 lead with a 22-2 surge that was capped by a layup from Faith Hunter (Raleigh, N.C.) to put the game out of reach with 6:20 left on the clock.
Lees-McRae is expected to return 11 letter-winners from this year's squad, which earned the program's first berth in the conference tournament since 2008. Rising seniors Amber Coleman (Alexandria, Va.) and Chloe Parker (Chicago, Ill.) are expected to headline next year's team, aided by rising juniors Patterson, Flowers, Smith, and Sophie Witte (Hamburg, Germany).
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