CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team suffered its third loss of the season Wednesday night, falling 93-79 at home against Barton Community College in a battle between the second and third-place teams in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
"Our defense was really poor. To Barton's credit, it made shots and some tough ones too. But they (Cougars) beat us in every facet of the game at every position," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh.
Barton (11-3 overall, 7-3 KJCCC) shot a sizzling 54 percent from the floor Wednesday night, including 63 percent (10-of-16) from the 3-point line. The Cougars, who were a perfect 7-for-7 from behind the arc in the second half, had entered the game second to last in the conference in 3-point shooting at 30.5 percent, while Cloud County (11-3 overall, 7-3 KJCCC) had been holding opponents to 27.4 % from deep; the best mark in the KJCCC.
The T-Birds switched up their defensive looks, alternating between man-to-man and zone, but to no avail.
"Defensively, we play the way we play. We're going to try and pressure some, we did zone a little bit, but to their credit they made shots," Eshbaugh said. "They made (3-pointers) against a variety of different defenses."
Compounding the problems of the Cougars' hot shooting was the T-Birds' struggled to buy a basket, especially early as they were limited to 32 percent shooting in the first half.
Sophomore shooting guard Deon Lyle provided an early spark as he scored 12 consecutive Cloud County points between the 7:06 and 5:35 marks of the first half to give the T-Birds' their largest lead of the game at 25-20. He finished with a game-high 28 points.
Barton responded with a 16-7 run to close out the first half, though, to take a 36-32 lead at the break.
The Cougars kept right on rolling in the second half, building their lead to as many as 17 points with 10:43 remaining.
Cloud County crawled back within eight with 1:32 remaining on a free throw from sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos, but ran out of time as Barton went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line over the final 90 seconds to secure the 93-79 win.
McNelly led all Cloud County players with nine rebounds, followed by sophomore guard Andrew Ballock, who was limited to four points but grabbed eight boards and dished out a team-high 10 assists.
The T-Birds will look to get back on track at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they travel to face Cowley County Community College (7-7 overall, 4-6 KJCCC).