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Improbable, Come-From-Behind Division II Men’s Basketball Championship Win Propels Team Into National Spotlight.
LOS ANGELES (Wednesday, July 11) In recognition of its improbable, come-from-behind victory in the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball, Barton College’s “Bulldogs” were widely applauded throughout ESPN’s prestigious ESPY Awards celebration. Nominated in the category of “Best Finish,” the Bulldogs were up against stiff competition for the award, including the Dodgers’ dramatic win over the Padres (baseball), Kevin Harvick’s win at the Daytona 500 (NASCAR), and race horse Curlin beating the Triple Crown-hopeful at this year’s Preakness (horse-racing). The category winner was the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Bulldogs were nominated for their dramatic rally in the final minute of the 2007 NCAA Division II National Men’s Basketball Championship game March 24th against top-ranked defending national champion Winona State (MN), with a NCAA D-II record 57-game winning streak.
“It was definitely a David and Goliath story,” said Ron Lievense, the basketball coach at Barton College in Wilson, N.C., a school of about 1,100 students. “We’re a small school that nobody believed could win. But our group of young men played unselfish basketball, bought into our defensive system, and played as a team, something very few teams do these days. I’m just really proud of what this team accomplished together, against great odds, for Barton College and the entire Wilson (N.C.) community. “
After falling behind 74-67 with 45 seconds left in the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., Barton mounted one of the most spectacular comebacks in basketball history. The hero was Anthony Atkinson, a hometown All-American point guard, who swished Barton’s last 10 points in a 39-second span. His winning shot came at the buzzer. Barton College won the game and the championship 77-75.
“We were preparing for this game all season long,” said Anthony Atkinson. “We brought our discipline, confidence, and powerful beliefs with us every step of the way—and it made the final difference during the championship.”
“The Bulldogs never stopped believing that they could do the unthinkable, and their faith in each other, heart, and spiritual strength, helped them reach the top of the mountain,” said Barton President Dr. Norval Kneten.
“This is a special moment for Barton College and for the whole community of Wilson, N.C.”
The ESPY Awards ceremony, hosted bv Jimmy Kimmel and LeBron James, took place at the famous Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. Thousands of celebrities from the entertainment, sports, and political communities attended the event, while more than 10 million are expected to view the show 9 p.m. Sunday night when ESPN broadcasts the ESPYs.
Barton College, founded in 1902, is a four-year, private, liberal arts college located in Wilson, North Carolina. Barton offers a wide range of professional and liberal arts programs leading to the baccalaureate degree. The College is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as among the best colleges in the South and by Princeton Review as among the top colleges of the Southeast. Barton is committed to providing a challenging academic environment in the classroom and a focus on student leadership development outside the classroom. It boasts a strong international travel study program and has an active honors program. The College draws students regionally, nationally, and internationally to provide a remarkably diverse student population. For additional information, visit Barton’s web site at www.barton.edu or call 1-800-345-4973.