Cloud County Women's Basketball Ends Season with Region VI Tournament Loss at No. 16 Barton

Sophomore Alize Ruiz Broke the Cloud County Single-Season Rebounding-Record on Tuesday, March 7th, Finishing the Season with 375 Rebounds
Sophomore Alize Ruiz Broke the Cloud County Single-Season Rebounding-Record on Tuesday, March 7th, Finishing the Season with 375 Rebounds

Scoring struggles on the offensive end for the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team would come as part of a season-low shooting performance in what would be the final game of the 2022-23 season following a 69-36 road loss to number-16 ranked Barton Community College in the NJCAA Region VI Tournament quarterfinals inside the Kirkman Center in Great Bend, Kansas on Tuesday, March 7th.

Ending the year at 17-14 overall, Cloud County falls for the third time on the year to the host Cougars who improve to 26-5 overall with the victory and advance to take on Butler Community College in the NJCAA Region VI Tournament semifinals on Friday, March 10th.

Having been held to their previous low scoring totals in each of the last two outings with Barton, the T-Birds would once again see a Cougar defense that came into the game allowing just 55.4 points per game to be a problem as a 9-2 run to open the game by BCC would put CCCC in an early deficit. Breaking a 3:31 scoring drought after being held to just two points through the opening six minutes of the game, Cloud County would see the free throw line be about the only area providing any scoring for the T-Birds in the opening quarter as five of the 10 points scored by CCCC would come from the charity stripe. Barton meanwhile would shoot 61.5 percent (eight-of-13) from the floor in the opening period while hitting on two of three attempts from beyond the arc to score 21 points and build a lead of as many as 14 in the first to hold an 11-point advantage heading to the second.

Giving up a bucket in the paint and two free throws on Barton's first two possessions of the second, Cloud County would see the deficit grow to 15 before getting a Sarah Lawless jump shot in what would prove to be the only points scored by the T-Birds in the second quarter. Following the made shot with 8:40 left before halftime, CCCC would be held without another point after missing their final 12 shot attempts of the first half while being unable to find a way to get to the charity stripe while seeing the Cougars score the final nine points of the quarter to go up 34-12 at the half.

Scoring on a made field goal by Maimouna Sissoko to start the second half, Cloud County would see Barton respond by scoring eight of the next 10 points over the ensuing six-plus minutes of game time as points would still remain few and far in between for the T-Bird offense. With the deficit having reached 28 at 44-16 with 4:38 left in the quarter, CCCC would get a Josephine Igherighe three-point play as part of a quick 5-0 spurt before giving up a three-point play on the other end of the floor along with a made Barton triple in the final seconds of the period to trail 50-21 heading to the fourth.

The final quarter of action would see each team trade the opening 10 points of the quarter with both squads hitting on a shot from beyond the arc along with a bucket in the paint with the margin remaining intact after three minutes of action in the quarter. BCC would then cap things off with eight straight points on two made threes and another shot in the paint to take their largest lead of the game at 62-26 as CCCC would score 10 of the final 17 points over the final 4:05 of the game.

Nearly every statistical category would favor the Cougars in the contest with Barton shooting 45.0 percent (27-of-60) from the field along with an eight-of-23 (34.8 percent) performance from three compared to a 23.2 percent (13-of-56) shooting outing from the field while making just three-of-31 (9.7 percent) of their three-point attempts. BCCC would also hold a 46-31 advantage in rebounds and a 36-10 advantage in points in the paint while outscoring CCCC 13-4 in second-chance points and 19-9 points off turnovers advantage.

Seven different players would score for Cloud County, but none would score more than eight in the game with Alize Ruiz scoring eight points to go along with a team-best 11 rebounds to set a new single-season rebounding record with 375 total rebounds in 31 games. CCCC's next-highest scoring performances would come from Sissoko and Kayla Horton with six points each with Sissoko also grabbing six rebounds. Barton would have three starters in double-figures and be led by a 19-point outing from Brennan Kirchhoff while Jenny Nkem Womsi would score 15 points and grab 14 rebounds.