The Barton Community College men's basketball team remained unbeaten on the season pulling out a hard fought 78-73 victory Wednesday night in Iola over Allen County Community College. The Cougars battled back from an eight point halftime hole to get back in the game but still found itself trailing by three late before outscoring the Red Devils 10-2 in the final two minutes including the difference making 5-0 spurt in the final minute to earn the victory. Barton continues to share the conference top spot at 6-0 with the 10-0 start to the season while dropping Allen County to 2-4 in Jayhawk play and 5-5 on the year. The Cougars' will host Independence Community College in its next contest with a 5:30 p.m. tip Saturday at the Barton Gym.
Malik Toppin scored fourteen of the Cougars' first seventeen enroute to a career high twenty-two points to tie for game high honors. Carrying a big load for Barton in second half play, Anthony Smith posted his second double-double of the season scoring seventeen points while leading the Cougars to a nine board advantage hauling down eleven. Malik Rhodes reached double figures for the seventh time of the sophomore transfer's season adding thirteen points and coming up with a big steal leading to Barton tying the game for the final time. Jahlil Rawley dished out four of the Cougars' fifteen assists while contributing seven points including 5-of-6 from the charity stripe sinking three critical throws in the final minute.
Quentin Blaue tied Toppin for game high honors with twenty-two knocking down 5-of-7 behind the arc while joining three others for the team category in rebounds with four. Jah-Kobe Womack was also deadly behind the arc burying 4-of-8 on the way to eighteen points while DaRon Mims added fifteen.
Toppin came out of the locker room on fire going perfect from the field for the first ten minutes including six straight to open the contest. Allen County matched Toppin's production for the first three shots until Rhodes' aggressive move to the hole converting an And-1 sparked a 9-2 Barton run with six straight coming from Toppin including a thunderous transition dunk off a Charles Norman feed.
Allen County would answer with their own eight point spurt to gain their first lead only to be halted by Toppin's big time hammer in traffic. But with Toppin being sent to the bench with over nine minutes remaining in the half with two fouls, Barton struggled to find consistent offense while the Red Devils chipped away in building a four point lead. Free throws by John Barbee and Smith in addition to a short jumper by Noah Webster led a 5-2 stretch drawing to within two but the fifth Allen County three-pointer of the half and an old fashioned three point play closed out the first twenty minutes sending the teams to the locker room with a Red Devil 40-32 lead.
A 5-0 run by Smith opened up second half action drawing Barton to within five but Allen County managed to keep Barton at bay taking the lead back out to seven. A pair of Smith free throws and Barbee jumper cut the deficit to two at the sixteen minute mark where it remained for the next four minutes.
With Barton hanging around the chicken coop, the Cougars finally got over the hump with 11:40 to play as Devonte Barker drained his first points of the contest burying a top of the key trey. 1-of-2 free throw trips by Smith and Norman extended the lead until an Allen County trey tied it at 55 with a little over nine to play. Another Toppin dunk gained the lead but again a Red Devil trey answered the call as the teams would battle toe-to toe with five more ties the ensuing eight minutes.
The turning point of the game came with just under three minutes to play as Blaue knocked down his fifth three pointer of the contest coming out of a timeout breaking a 68-all tie. With the Cougars coming up empty on the next possession, Allen County had a chance to increase the lead to five but missed two free throws leaving the door open.
A 1-of-2 trip to the line by Smith followed by a Rawley steal leading to a Toppin spin move in the lane reversed the momentum knotting things up at 71 with 1:41 to play. Getting another key defensive stop, Smith powered up for his sixteenth second half point with a jump hook in the lane putting the Cougars out front for good with fifty seconds remaining. Rawley secured a defensive rebound on the following Red Devil missed shot then added two free throws for four point Barton lead with 19.9 seconds. Allen County would miss the mark on their next shot with the 6'3" Rawley securing his second defensive rebound making one of his two ensuing free throws taking the lead to five with just 8.8 seconds on the clock. The Red Devils would score a late bucket to cut it to three but Rhodes' pair of charity tosses with one second sealed the Cougars' ninth straight victory of the series.