For much of the game Saturday, the Barton women’s basketball team did everything it needed to pull off a win at the Barton Gym. Including a majority of play in the final minutes.
But in the final seconds, thing fell apart.
In the end, the Cougars problems in the final minute cost them the contest. Barton lost for the third straight time to start the Jayhawk Conference season. This time to Jayhawk leading Cowley, 58-56. Barton is now 0-3 in the Jayhawk and 8-6 overall. Cowley is 4-0 in the conference and 13-2 overall.
“It’s frustrating at times,” Coach Trevor Rolfs said. “Our kids fought hard all game. We executed our game plan pretty well and had a chance to beat a really good team. But mistakes in the end cost us.”
Barton led 56-55 with just less than one minute to play and had the basketball. Barton had taken the lead with a 6-2 run the previous two minutes. But that final minute wasn’t kind.
First, after running the shot clock down, Barton’s Keneisha Winfrey had her 3-pointer blocked with 24 seconds to play. On the ensuing fast break, Barton’s Megan Unruh fouled Cowley’s Madi Greenwood to prevent a layup.
Barton caught a break when Greenwood committed a violation before ever shooting her first free throw. She made her only free throw to tie the game at 56-all with 19 seconds to play.
The final seconds were disastrous for Barton. Alexus Bryson drove the lane and was cutoff. Her pass with seven seconds to play was deflected and stolen by Cowley. Bryson then fouled trying to the ball back with just 1.6 seconds to play 90 feet from the basket.
Cowley’s Grace Brito made both free throws and the Tigers escaped with the win after a halfcourt shot by Jalisa Jones missed.
“Our margin for error is so small without the kids we have lost to injury,” Coach Rolfs said. “We really have to execute well and make shots. When we do those things, we are a pretty good team. If we don’t we will struggle to win.”
Barton had jumped to a 19-14 lead after one and still led 25-22 at half. Cowley overtook Baron early in the third and the game saw eight ties and seven lead changes the rest of the way.
Megan Jirak scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Barton before fouling out with three minutes to play. Kilee Harris added 12 and Winfrey 11.
Bridget Mimmo and Brito both had 14 for Cowley. Brito added 13 rebounds.
A big difference in the game was a 23-15 points off turnover advantage for Cowley.
The Cougars had 10 offensive rebounds and did not score a single point off them. Cowley scored eight on 14 offensive boards.
Barton played once again without the services of Katrina Roenfeldt, who has a knee injury. Roenfeldt, the leading returning scorer heading into this season, is out for the season after suffering an ACL injury. She played in just three games this year due to a couple different injuries.
Barton will be off until the first Saturday of 2016. The Cougars will travel to Allen County for a 6 p.m. tipoff as Barton jumps right back into conference play Jan. 2.
Allen is also winless in conference play at 0-4 and 4-10 overall. In fact Barton’s first three conference games of the second semester are against teams with a combined 2-10 mark.
“The kids have already faced a tremendous amount of adversity with the injuries,” Coach Rolfs said. “I am really proud of the girls and fight they have. We could have won at Pratt, we are up two at Butler at half and we did a lot of good things against Cowley and could have won.
“But we are 0-3. Hopefully the kids will keep fighting and get things turned around.”