Barons ignite in second half to beat Senators

Brewton-Parker College men's basketball coach Steve Barker said he challenged his Barons at halftime Thursday to shed their first-half intimidation by Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.) 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 with a 75-51 victory in their first win in seven tries over the Senators since AUM entered the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference 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.

Senior guard Gabe Bubon took the challenge to heart, hitting two 3-point shots to forge a 33-all tie and the Barons (10-8 overall, 3-1 GACC) 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 (6-5, 2-1) 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.

After playing host to No. 10 ranked (NAIA Division I) Faulkner University (Ala.), the Barons will be off until their Thursday, Jan. 23, game at Waleska against Reinhardt College and will then travel to Dahlonega on Saturday, Jan. 25, to face North Georgia College and State University.

The Lady Barons' next home game will be Monday, Jan. 27, against Emmanuel College at 6 p.m. in the Student Activities Center.