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Strong finish pushed Indy by Cougar women
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Special to the Tribune

There was a lot of good from the Barton women’s basketball team Wednesday night at the Barton Gym.  But one glaring portion of the game wasn’t so good.

That one aspect is an important one. Making shots. That was the difference as Independence came to town and left with an 82-76 Jayhawk Conference win. The loss dropped Barton to 1-4 in the Jayhawk and 9-7 overall. Indy is 3-3 and 12-4.

It didn’t matter much that Barton turned the ball over just 11 times while the Pirates had 19 turnovers. It didn’t matter much the Cougars scored five more points off turnovers. Or that Barton had more second chance points. Nor did it matter much the Cougars shot 10 more free throws. 

In the end making shots was the difference. Barton hit just 32 percent from the field while Indy made 58 percent.

“We were a big part of their shooting percentage and we were a big part of our shooting percentage,” Barton Coach Trevor Rolfs said. “We had so many defensive breakdowns. Defensively, we were just not good.

“”Offensively we miss nine bunnies right under the basket. Basically dead layups. If we make some of those and don’t have the breakdowns that percentage difference isn’t as great and it is an entirely different basketball game.” 

Barton got off 18 more shots that did Independence but made seven fewer. The Cougars ended the night 22-of-68 while the Pirates hit 29-of-50. From behind the arc it was no better. Barton made 7-of-23 treys while Indy made 5-of-10.

The first two minutes of the game foretold the future. Barton came out and missed its first three shots while Independence went 4-for-4 and bolted to an 8-0. 

While the Pirates would never trail after that, Barton hung around close enough to keep them on edge. 

Indy led by as many as 11 in the opening quarter but early in the second period Barton had cut it to 24-21 on a Dominique Baker jumper. The Pirates led just 43-37 at intermission.

Barton scored the first six points of the third quarter and suddenly the Cougars had tied the game 43-all. Independence recaptured the lead and by late in the third had pushed it back to 11 points. The Pirates led 65-53 by quarter’s end.

Barton had another run in them and following a Megan Jirak bucket with 6:48 to play, the Cougars had trimmed it to four, 67-63.

Barton hung around, trailing just 73-68 with 3:11 to go but Indy put the game away with a quick 5-0 run for a 10-point lead.

“We are right there,” Coach Rolfs said. “We have been right there in all but one league game. Our margin for error is just so small. Even if we don’t turn the ball over and do our job on the boards, we just don’t have much room for error.”

Jalisa Jones led the Cougars with 16 points. She was one of four Barton starters in double figures. Megan Unruh added 14, Kilee Harris 13 and Baker 12. Jirak just missed a double-double with eight points and 14 rebounds.

Simone Costa led four Indy players in double figures with 17.

Barton will look to get in the win column on the road Saturday in Chanute. The Cougars will take on Neosho County at 2 p.m. The Panthers are 1-5 in the Jayhawk and 7-7 overall.

“We have to keep the kids positive,” Coach Rolfs said. “We have been right there in the games. We could be 4-1 but we are 1-4. We, as coaches, need to be hard on them but at the same time stay positive with them. We need to win a close one to get some confidence. That teeter-totter could sway either way with them.”