The margin of error is slim especially on the road in the competitive Jayhawk Conference. Saturday afternoon in Chanute, Kansas, the Barton Community College men's basketball team perhaps learned a few lessons as the Cougars failed to shut the door allowing Neosho County Community College to pull out a 66-63 win.
Holding a three point lead with three minutes to play, Barton went cold squandering multiple offensive opportunities scoring only one point the rest of the way while watching Neosho inch its way back with deciding free throws in the last twenty-eight seconds of play escaping for the win. The result overshadowed the defensive effort of the Cougars holding the conference's leading offensive team to twenty-eight points below their average but a season low 32% offensive shooting doomed Barton's bid to win its seventh straight. Instead, the loss drops Barton to 5-1 in conference and 13-4 on the season while Neosho improves to 5-2 and 13-3 overall. The Cougars return to the Barton Gym on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip versus Garden City Community College.
Following a back and forth opening ten minute deadlock, the Cougars were first show some offensive life. Executing perfect zone passing, the Cougars found Anthony Smith on the low block as Smith scored four straight giving Barton a spark. Following a pair of Neosho free throws, an Ezekiel Charles three-pointer and John Barbee 1-of-2 trip to the line built a six point lead but then the Cougars went cold as the Panthers heated up going on a 12-0 run turning the edge to the home team 28-22.
Four straight by Tyrone Acuff kick started a cougar resurgence and free throws by Keith Mack and the offensive glass work and free throws by Dequandre Dentmond led 9-0 closing of first half play giving Barton a 31-28 lead.
A pair of treys to open second half play and camp the first five minutes turned the momentum back to the home team 40-37. The Panthers grew the lead to six but four straight by Mack and later a Charles three in front of the Barton bench kept the Cougars within three through second half media timeout.
Barton would then go on a seven point run to claim the lead only to have Neosho return the favor with four straight of their own tying it up at 54 then surge ahead with a 1-of-2 trip to the charity line. Charles put the Cougars back in front but couldn't convert the hoop-n-harm as if a sign of things to come as it would serve as Barton's last bucket.
Following four straight by Neosho to gain a three-point edge, Dentmond took over the paint earning three trips to the line converting all six throws giving Barton a 62-59 lead with 3:07 to play. Not much would go right for Barton after that as Neosho field goal would cut the lead to one and a 1-of-2 trip to the line for Mack would be all the points Barton would muster in the last 2:09 of the game.
A defensive stop gave Barton the opportunity to increase its lead but turnover would give the ball back to the Panthers. Working the shot clock to its fullest, the Panthers would drain a jumper tying the game with a little over a minute to play. The Cougars would again give a gift back to Neosho as a Mack turnover dribbling in traffic led to a Panthers potential transition bucket if not for the defensive hustle of Dentmond preventing the easy bucket but fouling Marc Moon in the process. Moon, who then landed hard on the floor, had to be replaced in the lineup which sent the 38% free throw shooter Rashon Griggs to the line with twenty-nine seconds to play. Griggs missed the first but after a Barton timeout, nailed the second in what would be the eventual game winner.
Derek Dorn, who had been held throughout the contest, found a good opening to the basket with fifteen to play but his shot was rejected to the back wall keeping possession with the Cougars. Barton worked the ball around but Mack's baseline trey was off the mark leaving Neosho for a trip to the line for two free throws sealing the deal with 1.2 seconds remaining as Charles' desperation three-point heave missed wide.
Dentmond led only three Cougars in double figures with sixteen points including 10-of-10 from the charity stripe to go along with eight rebounds. Smith was also perfect from the line going 4-for-4 finishing with fourteen points and six rebounds while Charles recorded his second career double-double with twelve points and eleven rebounds in leading Barton's 40-37 rebound edge.
Moon led all players with nineteen points while Freddie McSwain led with seven rebounds with scoring thirteen including some late timely buckets for the Panthers.
In addition to the team's defensive effort limiting the Panthers, Barton also helped control the conference's sixth leading scorer Richard Granberry to thirteen points below his average but Neosho also clamped down on the Cougars' leading scorer holding Dorn to eleven points below his average.