For 20 minutes Monday night the Barton Community College women’s basketball team looked on the way to an upset of Butler.
Then came the second half – specifically the final 10 minutes. Barton jumped out to an early lead, led by seven at half and were within a single point midway through the final half.
In the end, Butler won what on the surface looks like an easy 60-46 decision but it was anything but. The loss drops Barton to 6-6 in the Jayhawk West and 16-8 overall. Butler, meanwhile, is 8-3 in the West and 18-6 overall. The Cougars still control their own destiny for that fourth and final home playoff game to open Region VI play.
“We did a lot of nice things the first 30 minutes or so,” Coach Carter Kruger said. “We competed extremely hard, and then our bubble burst in some ways. The biggest thing was that our defensive intensity fell off and that led to a lack of energy on offense.”
Barton jumped to an 8-2 lead in the game and got it up to 15-8 with 10:33 to play on a KK Anthony jumper. Butler came storming back with eight straight to take the lead and the see-saw battle was on. That is until the Cougars closed out the half on a 10-2 run for a 31-24 lead.
Butler quickly evened the score to start the second half and, once again, the close battle was on. But down 40-39 after an Indiah Cauley free throw at the 9:55 mark, Barton went cold. Barton scored two points over the next five minutes as Butler built a 52-41 lead. It increased to 58-43 with three minutes to play as Butler coasted to the end for the win.
Barton scored just seven points the final 9:55 of the game.
“If we could have converted on a few more open looks from the perimeter, we probably win the game,” Coach Kruger said. Unfortunately we didn’t respond to the pressure Butler put on us down the stretch.”
Anthony was the lone Cougar in double figures with 13. She also led the Cougars with 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. Barton shot just 29 percent from the floor including a tough night on treys, hitting just 4-for-23.
Kate Palmer scored 16 and Ashley Gibson 13 for the Grizzlies.
Now for the next challenge – No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Hutchinson. Barton will travel to Hutchinson tonight to take on the 25-0 Blue Dragons tonight.
“We have a great challenge ahead Wednesday,” Coach Kruger said. “We are playing one of the best teams in the history of the Jayhawk Conference, and it’s the kind of game you coach and play in this conference to be a part of.”