Barton women protect Dog House
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 2, 2008 2:01 AM
WILSON -- Mount Olive couldn't close the deal.
Archrival Barton College did -- with Kendra Thomas' help.
Absent during their previous meeting nearly five weeks ago, Thomas recorded a double-double -- 24 points, 20 rebounds -- as the Dogs ruled their house and dumped the Trojans 84-71 on Friday evening.
Barton seized the No. 2 seed for next week's Conference Carolinas tournament, while Mount Olive settled for the No. 3 seed. Both teams will host first-round games on Monday.
"Kendra had an awesome game," said Barton coach Wendee Saintsing. "She went up strong for everything ... on the boards, on her shot. That's best I've seen her play and I hope we can keep her at that level."
Thomas' inside presence and Sara Fleming's short-range accuracy inside 15 feet caused defensive headaches for Mount Olive all evening. Thomas shot 9 of 13 from the floor, grabbed 13 defensive rebounds and blocked two shots.
Fleming, the team's second-leading scorer, converted 10 of 15 field-goal attempts and tallied 15 of her 23 points in the second half.
"Their inside play was the difference," said Mount Olive coach Wendy Lee. "We didn't do a good job keeping her (Kendra) off the boards and didn't do a good job contesting No. 30 (Fleming)."
Mount Olive (17-10 overall) also had trouble finishing shots. The Trojans attempted 20 more field goals than the Bulldogs, but had several shots bounce off the iron or rim out.
Barton owned an eight-point edge in the paint.
"We just got out-played, honestly," said Lee, whose team shot 34 percent for the game. "We got looks in the paint, got some layups and missed shots when we really needed to make them. Why we didn't make them, I don't know."
The Trojans couldn't stop dribble penetration, which enabled Barton to establish its inside-out game early in the first half. The Bulldogs knocked down six field goals within 10 feet of the basket and grabbed a 10-point lead with seven minutes gone.
Mount Olive answered with a 12-2 run which included 3-pointers from reserves Shequanta McGee and Brittney Robich. Helen Moore's field goal off McGee's assist gave the Trojans their only lead of the game, 20-18.
Fleming and Thomas both scored off Esty Flores' assists to put the Dogs back in front 22-20. An NCAA East Regional participant each of the past two seasons, Barton never trailed again.
The Trojans pulled within 39-35 at halftime and tied the game at 43-43 in the second half on Alisa Jones' putback underneath. The Dogs reeled off eight straight points and Mount Olive never recovered.
"The second half, I thought we did a better job defensively," said Saintsing. "We did allow them some offensive boards ... they were going a little bit harder than we were. But other than that, I thought we had a pretty good defensive effort."
Mount Olive attempted 17 more field goals than Barton in the second half, but converted just 29.5-percent of its attempts compared to 59.3 percent for the Dogs.
Senior guard Lakeisha Monroe and Moore each logged a double-double for the Trojans. Monroe had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Moore chipped in 15 points and 12 boards.
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