Twenty-four turnovers proved more than the Barton College women’s basketball team could overcome in Wednesday evening’s clash against the University of Mount Olive before the largest crowd of the season for a women’s basketball game at Wilson Gymnasium.
But arch rival Mount Olive withstood 28 turnovers to emerge with a 77-72 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas triumph and claim victory against the Bulldogs for the first time since 2018.
The Trojans, tied for sixth place in the 13-team Conference Carolinas, survived a pair of spirited comebacks from deficits of 13 and 12 points by Barton in the fourth quarter to rise to 5-3 in the league and to 9-7 in all games. The third straight loss left the Bulldogs at 2-4 in the conference and 2-11 against all foes.
“Frustrating,” admitted Barton junior Cierra Revelle, who poured in a career-high 18 points, hitting 4-of-7 shots from 3-point range. “Our energy was really good, and any time you get that close — especially against the arch rival — you feel dejected. But we just have to move forward.
Added veteran Barton head coach Wendee Saintsing: “Their pressure got to us. We worked our way back, refocused and did some good things. Then we missed a couple of little things. It was the little things.”
The turnovers most disappointed Wendy Lee, Mount Olive’s veteran head coach.
But she noted: “We’ll take any win, especially against Barton — a formidable opponent and our arch rival. I don’t win here often.”
Barton led 18 of the 20 first-half minutes but trailed 30-28 at halftime. The Trojans stretched the advantage to 55-43 after three quarters as Bulldogs point guards struggled against Mount Olive’s pressure. Mount Olive recorded 14 steals, including five from impressive freshman Laila Anderson.
The Trojans forged their biggest margin of 56-43 with 8:43 left in the final quarter. However, Barton, sparked by Revelle and junior Leila Copeland, trimmed the deficit to 58-52.
Anderson and company bounced back to build the cushion to 12 points even though Anderson fouled out with 3:28 showing, after drawing her fourth foul with 4:04 to go. But in between, she delivered a clutch field goal.
Lauren Mingo, a 5-8 freshman and the Barton leader in assists, came off the bench to join Revelle and 5-8 junior Lauren Walker, the team’s leading scorer, in triggering a last-ditch Barton flurry. With two fouls, Walker sat out much of the second quarter and was whistled for her third foul with over five minutes left in the third quarter. But she played the rest of the way.
A pair of free throws from Barton freshman Skylar Quillet shaved the Trojans’ lead to 73-69 with 17.9 seconds remaining. After a pair of free throws from Mount Olive freshman Maleiya Hill, Mingo, following one last Barton turnover, rainbowed in a 3-point shot from Nash Street. The Bulldogs trailed only 75-72 with 4.6 seconds left.
But after missing two foul tosses nine seconds earlier, the Trojans’ Haleigh Crews, a junior, swished a pair to seal the outcome with four-tenths of a second to go.
But in 1:54, Mingo, who did not play well in a brief first-half appearance, managed nine points, four steals, two rebounds and three fouls.
“No. 25 (Mingo) was really big,” Revelle said. “She was a shot of energy on offense and defense with her free throws and big shots.”
Barton, after shooting for 31.3% accuracy the first half, improved to 34.5% for the game. The Trojans shot a miserable 23.1% the first two quarters, and wound up at 27.3%.
“We both are kind of new teams,” Lee reasoned. “We don’t have experience at the point. Credit Barton for doing a really good job on the press and traps. We’ve got to improve; it nearly cost us the game.
“We didn’t attack the zone early and we didn’t shoot it well early. We knew No. 0 (Revelle) was capable of shooting the 3, and we didn’t get out on her. But we managed to hold it together and get the win.”
The Bulldogs responded with 18 steals, led by junior Payton Sutton with seven and Revelle with five. Sutton dished out six assists but had seven turnovers. The Trojans won the rebounding battle, 42-35, with 5-10 junior Reagan Hune claiming 12 and leading scorer Laila Harris, a 6-1 junior, eight. Barton’s leader was Quillet with nine, followed by Revelle with six.
“In the third quarter, they got to us,” Saintsing divulged. “If we were able to pressure a little bit quicker, we would have gotten back into it sooner.
“We just can’t get a break. We have been in every game except two with a chance to win. Something happens. We have to fight through it, keep working and figure out a way to win.”
Revelle saw the encounter as a positive and reason to move on and be encouraged.
“Every day is a new day and every day is an opportunity to get better,” she remarked. “It was their pressure. Twenty-four turnovers is far too many.”
Barton led the entire first quarter, building a 10-5 edge behind Walker and Quillet. A 3-pointer from Walker and a field goal from freshman Emerie Tillman resulted in a 15-11 Barton first-quarter lead.
But Walker was benched with her second foul with 7:44 showing in the second quarter. Still, the Bulldogs maintained the lead until Crews connected on a 3-pointer for her team’s first lead at 26-25. Anderson’s basket with 2.8 seconds to go accounted for Mount Olive’s 30-28 halftime margin.
The third quarter was nip-and-tuck and produced 35-35 and 37-37 ties. Ahead 39-38, the Trojans went on a 9-0 tear and closed the period with the last seven points to lead 55-43.
Anderson paced Mount Olive with a game-high 21 points. Crews and Hune each netted 13, while Harris managed 10
Revelle shook off poor first-quarter shooting to lead the Bulldogs with her 18 points.
“I should have shot more the first half, but I was struggling in the first quarter,” she explained. “But Emerie and Kayla (Byrne) encouraged me to keep shooting. I came out the second half and said I was going to shoot it. It really felt good.”
Noted Saintsing: “(Revelle) shot the ball well and did some good things defensively. She had a pretty good game.”
Walker finished with 13 points, three below her average, but contributed five assists and five rebounds. Quillet netted 11 points.
Barton’s women play at home again Saturday at 2 p.m. against conference foe Belmont Abbey.
MOUNT OLIVE (77)
Harris 10, Crews 13, Kimble 8, Tucker 4, Hill 4, Anderson 21, Hune 13, Priebe, Simpson 4, Pacheco.
Gladney 1, Revelle 18, Sutton 8, Quillet 11, Walker 13, Wilkins 1, Battle 2, Tillmon 2, Dixon 2, Mingo 9, Copeland 5, Carlton, Byrne.
Score by quarters:
Mount Olive 11 19 25 22 — 77
Barton 15 13 15 29 — 72