LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Freshman Jaylen Barford knocked down a pair of free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining and the No. 16 Motlow Bucks beat No. 11 Southwest Tennessee 76-75 Saturday afternoon at Copperweld Arena. It was the final home game of the season for Motlow.
The Bucks (21-4, 13-3) are now alone in second place behind Southwest Tennessee in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) and will travel to third-place Columbia State (20-6, 12-4) on Saturday, Feb. 21. Motlow’s games at Jackson State, originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 18, but postponed due to inclement weather, will now be played on Thursday, Feb. 26, in Jackson.
The Saluqis and Bucks put on a basketball display that more than lived up to the hype of two nationally-ranked squads squaring off. The game had multiple ties and lead changes, and the final-second heroics by Barford came after the Saluqis had apparently sealed the win by making two free throws with three seconds left.
However, Barford stole the inbounds pass and broke for the basket, getting fouled in the process. Barford, who is among the top freshman players in the country, calmly stepped to the foul line and made both free throws as the season’s loudest Copperweld Arena crowd roared its approval.
After trailing 23-21 with nine minutes to play in the first half, the Bucks went on an 11-0 run to take a 32-23 lead over the next 2:30. Southwest recovered though, outscoring the Bucks 17-10 the rest of the first half, which ended with the Bucks leading 42-40.
With the scored tied 73-73 with two minutes remaining, neither team could score until Barford went to the foul line with 6.5 seconds left and hit 1-2 to give Motlow a 74-73 lead. Southwest’s Earl Bryant then hit two free throws with three seconds left, leading to Barford’s game-winning heroics.
The Bucks overcame a tough 4-of-24 shooting night from behind the three-point line by stealing the ball 17 times. Motlow hit 41 percent of its shots from the floor, while the Saluqis connected on 53 percent from the field and 10-of-21 three-pointers.
Barford led all scorers with 28 points and added four rebounds, four assists and three steals. D’Andre Downey added 17 points with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots and Dequon Miller scored 13 points with seven assists and three steals.