GREAT BEND, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College men's basketball team overcame double-digit deficits on multiple occasions Saturday night to push Barton Community College, the second place team in the KJCCC standings, to the brink. But the T-Birds were unable to overcome a 19 free throw discrepancy in its tough 77-74 road loss to the Cougars.
The two teams were nearly identical in nearly every statistical category. Cloud County (17-10 overall, 13-10 KJCCC) shot 46 percent for the game. Barton (21-6 overall, 17-6 KJCCC), shot at a 48 percent clip.
Each team finished with 33 rebounds and over 30 points in the paint. But the difference in the game came down to the unguarded shots as Barton was 18-of-24 (75 percent) at the free-throw line, while the T-Birds were limited to five attempts (4-for-5).
"It was a hard-fought, physical game by both teams. But it is hard to overcome a 24-5 free-throw discrepancy and win a conference game on the road," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh. "We have to a better job of not fouling guys and a better job of getting fouled I guess."
Cloud County trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but inched with six at 37-31 at the break, and were down by 11 with 6:12 remaining before mounting a charge.
The T-Birds got back within two at 70-68, ironically enough on a pair of free throws from sophomore Andrew Ballock, with 1:35 remaining.
Cloud County had a chance to tie 47 seconds left, down 72-69, but sophomore guard Lavar Harewood has a potential game-tying 3-point come up centimeters short.
Barton bumped its lead back up to 76-71 with 17 seconds remaining and looked to have the game on ice, but sophomore point guard Aamahne Santos, who finished with a game-high 20 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 0.5 remaining.
The T-Birds forced a Cougars turnover on the ensuing in-bounds pass, getting one last chance to tie the game with 0.2 left, but ran out of time before getting a shot off.
Sophomore guards Deon Lyle and Ballock finished with 14 points and 11 points, respectively, to help lead the T-Birds' offensive attack. Redshirt freshmen forwards Jordan McNelly and Ramion Burt Jr. each added eight points apiece.
With three regular season games remaining, Cloud County still holds on to the fourth spot in the KJCCC standings. The T-Birds will welcome in Cowley College (14-13 overall, 11-12 KJCCC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday as they look to avenge a 79-60 road loss to the Tigers earlier this season back on Jan. 7.