Barons just miss completing home sweep for week
By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations
MOUNT VERNON -- Brewton-Parker College men's basketball coach Steve Barker saw his Barons score what he called one of the biggest wins in school history Thursday night and came within an eyelash of seeing perhaps a bigger win Saturday.
The Barons led NAIA Division I No. 10 ranked Faulkner University (Ala.) at halftime Saturday and then grabbed their final lead with 38.5 seconds left on Gabe Bubon's long 3-point shot.
Faulkner scored with 28.3 seconds left, however, and the Barons missed two shots before Bubon just missed on an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired.
Faulkner's 72-71 win was thus the only blemish on Brewton-Parker's three-game Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference home stand last week at the Student Activities Center.
The Barons (10-9 overall, 3-2 GACC) began the week with a 78-53 win on Jan. 13 over Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.) and then rallied with a strong second half to topple traditional GACC power Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.) 75-51 on Thursday.
Brewton-Parker's comeback from a seven-point deficit midway though the second half against Faulkner may have been inspired by the Barons' second-half rally against Auburn-Montgomery.
In Thursday's game, Barker said he challenged the Barons at halftime to shed their first-half intimidation by the Senators and play like the team that had won five of its previous seven games.
The Barons, who hit just 29.4 percent of their first-half shots, nearly doubled that percentage in the second half and ran away for their first win in seven tries over the Senators since AUM entered the GACC three seasons ago.
"I told them, 'You are playing like you're scared of them. Just settle down and play like you're capable of playing,' " Barker said of his halftime pep talk, which came after a sluggish first half that Auburn-Montgomery led 29-25.
Bubon, a senior guard from Warren, Ohio, took the challenge to heart by hitting two 3-point shots to forge a 33-all tie and the Barons followed with 12 more unanswered points.
Threes by junior post Hector Solano, Bubon and junior guard Jarvis Smith gave Brewton-Parker a 54-38 advantage by 9:10, and Smith hit two more treys for a 64-44 lead with 5:30 remaining.
Sophomore post Bryan Jett polished off the win with a dunk and pair of free throws in the final 1:02 to give the Barons' their largest margin of 24 at game's end.
While the Barons shot 58.6 percent (17-for-29) from the floor in the second half, their defense improved after halftime as well.
Brewton-Parker forced 10 second-half turnovers while AUM's shooting percentage fell to 21.9 percent, down nearly 17 points from the first half.
"We have had the opportunity to win every single game, and if you play hard and have the opportunity, that's all you can ask for," Barker said. "I think this win pushes us over a hump."
Bubon hit 6 of 10 3-point shots in scoring a game-high 24 points, 15 of which were in the second half. Smith was 4-for-8 from 3-point range and had 14 points, while Jett had 11 along with team highs of nine rebounds and seven blocked shots. Solano had 10 points and three blocks.
Senior guard Ellis Powell led the Senators (7-5, 3-1 after the weekend) with 14 points but had just five in the second half.
AUM coach Larry Chapman was seeking his 500th win in 26 years at Auburn-Montgomery but reached the milestone in the Senators' 83-78 win Saturday over Georgia Southwestern State University.
On Saturday, the Barons fell behind Faulkner 19-10 before tying the score at 27-all and riding Jett's score with 12 seconds left to a 32-31 halftime lead.
After the teams traded leads twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Eagles led 54-47 with 9:52 remaining. Brewton-Parker scored seven straight to tie the game, the last score on senior guard Derrick Hairston's hand-switching lay-up with 8:00 left.
Faulkner (12-3, 4-0 after the win) then led by as may as six before Brewton-Parker took a 64-63 lead and then erased another four-point deficit, with Bubon's 3-pointer putting the Barons ahead 71-70 with 38.5 seconds left.
Faulkner senior standout Paul Little scored the last of his game-high 43 points, 32 of which were after halftime and included five 3-pointers, with 28.3 seconds remaining.
The Barons missed two inside shots on their ensuing possession but gained one more shot at victory when Eagles senior guard Ben Baxter missed two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Bubon took an in-bounds pass after a time-out with 1.2 seconds left but just missed the mark with his last 3-point attempt.
Bubon hit four 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 16 points while Hairston added 11. Jett led the Barons in rebounds with seven and blocks with six.
Little was 14-for-21, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range, and hit 10 of 13 free throws in pacing Faulkner.
"That was a great NAIA game," Barker said. "The difference is they have won some close games and we haven't. You hope that sooner or later that one is going to swing our way."
Barker stressed the need for the Barons to begin the week's three-game stand well against Southern Wesleyan and did so by shooting better than 53 percent both overall and from 3-point range in the first half.
Jett led the Barons defensively against the Warriors with nine blocks and four steals.
"I thought our defense was the key," said Barker, whose team allowed Southern Wesleyan just 26.2 percent shooting accuracy with 13 blocks and seven steals. "The guys were taking charges and grabbing rebounds, and they will be asked to step up and do that on big nights."
The Barons used an 8-0 run that included a basket off a steal and a 3-pointer by Smith to take a 29-18 lead with 8:07 left in the first half.
Hairston scored twice and made an assist to Solano to complete a 7-0 run that put the Barons ahead 45-27 with 3:16 left in the half. Southern Wesleyan scored the half's last five points to close the halftime margin to 45-32.
The Warriors scored the first six points of the second half to close to within seven, but Brewton-Parker answered with a 13-0 run to take a 58-38 lead and establish a double-digit lead it would not relinquish. The Barons' biggest lead was 28 at 76-48 with 1:56 remaining.
The Barons were well balanced offensively, with Jett and senior guard Josh Stuart scoring 11 points apiece. Jett was 5-for-6 from the floor, and Stuart was 4-for-7, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Smith added 10 points.
Jerans Rapley led the Warriors (4-10, 2-2 after completing the week with two wins) with 11 points.
The Barons travel north for two conference games this week, visiting Reinhardt College (7-11, 1-3 entering the week) in Waleska on Thursday at 8 p.m. and North Georgia College and State University (6-11, 0-4 entering the week) in Dahlonega on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Brewton-Parker returns home Monday, Jan. 27, for an 8 p.m. GACC game
against Emmanuel College at the Student Activities Center.
"To be 10-9 and playing very well," Barker said, "we feel we can make a run and have a chance to win 20 games."