The No. 21 ranked Barton Community College men's basketball team didn't have the firepower Saturday night to keep up with the No. 2 ranked Blue Dragons of Hutchinson Community College getting outgunned 98-86 at the Barton Gym. Playing without its leading scorer Ezekiel Charles, the Cougars battled throughout the night but a critical 6-0 run before the half set the tone as the Blue Dragons continued its hot shooting in the second half holding off Barton's bid for the upset. The third straight loss sends the Cougars into the holiday break at 6-3 in Jayhawk play and 10-3 on the season while Hutchinson improves to 9-0 in conference and 13-0 on the year. Barton's next action will come Wednesday, January 4, as the Cougars travel to second place Cloud County Community College for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off to resume the conference season.
Charles Norman led the Cougars in scoring with a career high twenty-two points with Anthony Smith close behind matching his career high with twenty-one points and a second best thirteen rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Malik Toppin took his game to the perimeter connecting on 3-of-4 behind the arc finished with nineteen points while Malik Rhodes contributed ten. Jahlil Rawley led the sixteen assist night for the Cougars distributing a career high ten assists and scoring seven points.
Samajae Haynes-Jones led five Blue Dragons in double figures as the Wichita State University dropped twenty-eight points on 12-of-16 shooting including 4-of-6 from behind the arc. J.J. Rhymes was also deadly from long range connecting on 5-of-7 long balls finishing with twenty-four. Devonte Bandoo led a fourteen point Hutchinson advantage off the bench scoring sixteen while James Conley and Shakur Juiston finished with thirteen and twelve points respectively. Kai Mitchell led Hutchinson to a three rebound advantage gathering eleven of the Blue Dragons thirty-four boards.
Like two nationally ranked teams, the opening twenty minutes was a slugfest racing up and down the court launching a combined sixty-seven shots for a sizzling 59.7% from the field. With neither team known as a consistent three-point threat, the two were dialed in from long distance with the Cougars hitting 5-of-10 from behind the arc and the Blue Dragons going 7-of-10 including consecutive treys in the last minute of the half to take a 54-48 lead to the locker room.
Trading three pointers to begin the half, Hutchinson increased the lead to nine but the Cougars roared back with seven straight behind three from Norman and two from Rhodes and Rawley. Consecutive buckets from Bandoo including a fast break dunk pushed the lead back out to six before four straight by Smith cut the deficit back to two approaching the mid-point of the half.
The Blue Dragons' Haynes-Jones and Bandoo increased the lead back to six on either side of the media timeout and after a Norman trey, busted open the game with a 7-0 stretch to lead by ten with 7:57 to play.
The Barton deficit hovered around the eight point mark for the next three minutes until a 7-0 run by the Cougars getting four from Smith, a fast break layup by Norman, and a Noah Webster 1-of-2 trip to the line cut the score to 88-84 with 3:27 remaining.
Following two Bandoo free throws, Barton appeared to have cut the deficit to three with 2:37 remaining but Webster's three-pointer was waived off by one official to a chorus of dismay from the Cougar faithful in a critical part of the game. Hutchinson would then add four more from Juiston and a Bandoo layup in the next minute to seal the Cougars fate with the 8-0 run.