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Shepherd suffocated by defense of Barton

November 17, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - It may have not been the crowning achievement for Barton College, but it was enough to prove it was the regal deal to Shepherd University.

The defending NCAA Division II national champions didn't match the rally from a seven-point deficit it used in the final 45 seconds to win the title game. Then again, it didn't need to, either.

Instead, the Bulldogs proved the best way to start a title defense is by playing suffocating defense. Barton harassed Shepherd to build a 17-point halftime lead and cruise to a 81-58 victory on Friday in the first night of the Clarion Hotel Tip-Off Tournament and the season opener for both teams.

"They were disruptive in the first half," said Shepherd coach Ken Tyler. "We had 15 turnovers at the half. We only had seven in the second half. It was better, but the damage was already done."

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Barton played Tupperware defense, putting an air-tight seal on the Rams, who never really got into their offense. The Bulldogs' constant overplay tactics bullied Shepherd into errant passes and turnovers for easy scores.

"We pride ourselves on defense," Barton coach Ron Lievense said. "We have two goals every game - Defend with everything you have inside and set up a rebounding defense. The defense had great energy."

After falling behind 2-0, Barton ran off an early 8-0 run to assume the lead and never looked back. The Bulldogs played most of the game with either shooting guard Bobby Buffaloe or point guard Greg Mammel in foul trouble, but still managed to pressure the Shepherd backcourt.

Barton led by as many as 19 points in the first half before settling for a a 39-22 advantage at intermission. Forward Brian Leggett led the way with 14 of his 18 points in the first 20 minutes while the Bulldogs held Shepherd to 8 of 26 shooting - 30.8 percent.

"They played hard and we didn't." Tyler said. "The first half was a layup drill. They just got up into us and took it to us. We were an out-of-sync team that was beat by a team that knows how to win and compete and has a swagger."

Barton put the game away early in the second half with the starting-guard tandem on the floor. Buffaloe returned to the floor and hit three 3-pointers in a minute to push the Bulldogs out to a 53-26 lead.

The lead grew to as many as 27 points until Shepherd began to chip away. The Rams got to within 64-48 with 9:18 remaining on a pair of foul shots by Justin Jarman. Barton reversed the trend by outscoring Shepherd 17-10 the rest of the way.

Buffaloe led all scorers with 20 points, 18 in the second half, all on 3s.

Freshman Liki Turner led Shepherd in his college debut with 13 points, all in the second half. Fred Lymas and Jarman added 12 each.

"Hopefully, we learned a lesson of what championship basketball is all about," Tyler said. "We are all disappointed tonight, but remember, it's only Nov. 16 and there is a lot of basketball yet to be played."

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