A three game losing streak was broken in the Greenhouse Tuesday night as the Seward County Saints hosted the Barton Cougars in Jayhawk Conference action, but unfortunately for the guys in green, it was the Cougars breaking a three game losing streak against the Saints in an 88-81 victory, sending Seward to their fourth consecutive defeat to open the conference season.
Early on the Saints defense was stiff, holding the Cougars to just a pair of field goals in the first five minutes of action to jump out to an 8-4 lead. But seven straight from the Cougars gave Barton their first lead of the night at 11-8 and as the period neared its midpoint the Cougars stretched their lead all the way to nine at 21-12. Micah Littlejohn's second three of the first half drew Seward back to within six and the Saints slowly crawled back into the contest until a free throw from Spencer Franklin knotted the score at 23 with 7:06 remaining in the half. The score remained tied at 27-27 three minutes later but Barton outscored the Saints by five to close the half, taking a 38-33 lead into the locker rooms at the break.
Seward shot 50% in the half, but turned the ball over 11 times to lead to 14 points for Barton and also allowed the Cougars to grab six offensive rebounds which they cashed into 11 second chance points. Littlejohn and Franklin each had 10 in the first half for Seward, but no other Saint had more than one field goal in the period.
The Saints opened the second shot out of a cannon, scoring the first five points of the period in a matter of 40 seconds to tie the score up at 38. A Charles Beauregard three kept it a tie game at the 14 minute mark and the two teams traded baskets to 50-50 with 13:30 remaining. Seward took their first lead since the opening minutes on a pair of Beauregard free throws to make it 52-50 and after a Barton answer, another three from the sophomore pushed the Saints in front by three with under 10 minutes to go. However, the Saints went cold, failing to put a dent in the scoreboard for the next three minutes while Barton went on an 8-0 run, turning a three point Seward advantage into a five point Cougar lead at 60-55. The Saints hole continued to get bigger and eventually reached 11 at 73-62 after an easy bucket on the inside by the Cougars with 4:47 remaining. Seward never threatened again. The Saints got to within seven multiple times in the final five minutes but consistently were unable to stop Barton on the defensive end as the Cougars either found a crease in the defense or capitalized on second chance opportunities to ice the game away in the end 88-81.
Seward shot 60% in the second half and finished the game at 55% from the floor in the loss while Barton shot 48% overall on the night. Both teams had trouble holding onto the ball as the two combined for 45 turnovers and 43 points off of those giveaways. The difference came on the glass once again as Barton outrebounded Seward 39-23 and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds to outscore the Saints 17-0 on second chance points on the night. Franklin scored a career high 21 in the losing effort as every Seward starter reached double figures, but no Saints reserve scored more than four while the Cougar bench contributed 41 in the win.
The Saints drop to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in Jayhawk Conference play with the loss while Barton remains perfect at 8-0 overall and 4-0 in league play.
Something will have to give in the Saints next outing as 0-4 Seward takes on 0-4 Pratt in a matinee affair in the Beaverdome on Saturday with tip scheduled at 4:00.