The Barton Community College men’s basketball team had its eight game winning streak snapped Saturday afternoon at the Barton Gym as the Cougars fell to Division II No. 14 ranked Brown Mackie College 97-93. The loss dropped the Cougars to 10-2 on the season while the Lions improved to 10-3. Barton will wrap up the pre-conference schedule with a trip to Michigan with a pair of games next weekend against Division II opponents. The Cougars will open up the Christmas Classic Friday against the host Kalamazoo Valley at 7:30 p.m. then have a quick turnaround with a 1:00 p.m. contest against Kellogg Community College.
Erasing an eight point halftime deficit, freshman Khalil Gracey scored five straight to give Barton its first lead since early in the first half 75-72 with 7:45 to play. It was the last lead for Barton as Brown Mackie went on to score twelve of the next thirteen in the following three minutes including a 9-0 run to grab an 84-76 lead with 4:42 to play. Barton cut the deficit to three numerous times in the next three minutes and following a Jalin Barnes jumper pulled to within one at 90-89 with 1:39 remaining.
With both teams getting defensive stops, the game turned for good in the Lions favor off a missed free throw with thirty seconds to play. Making his first of two charity throws, Goch Ajak grabbed his own miss on the second shot put the dagger in the Cougars with the putback. Two Ahmad Walker free throws cut the deficit back to two but a pair of Ahasuerus McDonald free throws pushed the lead back out to four. Following a Gracey turnover, the freshman from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, stole the impending throw-in taking it to the hole to again get the Cougars to within two but only five ticks remained on the clock. Sending McDonald back to the free throw line, the Flint, Michigan sophomore sank his eleventh and twelfth free throw of the contest to seal the victory.
Walker continued his recent torrid scoring as the reigning KJCCC Player of the Week put up thirty points as the sophomore transfer has scored in double figures five straight games including three straight 25-plus point games. Tyrone Acuff added sixteen while Barnes scored fourteen and grabbed a career high nine rebounds to lead the Cougars. Gracey came off the bend to add twelve while Kenny Enoch led a nineteen steal defensive effort with four.
McDonald, going 12-of-15 from the line and 9-of-18 from the field, led four Lions in double-figures with a game thirty-two while also leading with six steals. Goch Ajak scored sixteen with eight rebounds and Macam Macam led a 49-44 rebound edge with fifteen including six on the offensive glass to go along with his thirteen points. Nygel Jones provide a spark off the bench to add eleven points and grab nine rebounds.
Having announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season, Brown Mackie Head Coach Francis Flax was recognized prior to the start of picking up victory No. 614 in thirty-two years of collegiate coaching.