The Barry University men’s basketball team entered the season with the goal of building on last season’s NCAA Division II tournament appearance.
Through six games, things were looking good as the Bucs earned the first top 10 national ranking in the program’s history.
But Tuesday night against visiting Indianapolis, Barry witnessed how tough it will be to maintain its elite status.
The Bucs, ranked No.8 nationally, let a 12-point second-half lead slip away and suffered their first loss of the season, 78-73 against fellow unbeaten Indianapolis before a home crowd of 871 at Barry University.
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“I’m disappointed, but not down,” Barry coach Butch Estes said. “We needed to play a game of this caliber because we’ve worked our way to be one of the top teams in the country. The hurt is there, but when we evaluate this, we will learn from our mistakes and continue to improve.”
The Greyhounds (8-0), ranked No.9 nationally, finished the game on a 13-4 run and took the lead for good with 3:34 left in the second half on guard Jordan Lloyd’s three-pointer.
Lloyd finished with 21 points and was one of four Indy players to score in double figures.
A highly anticipated matchup entering the game was the point guard battle between Barry’s Deric Hill, a 5-9 senior and South Miami High alum who came in ranked 15th nationally in assists (6.2 per game), and Indy’s Lucas Barker, who came in leading the nation with 8.9 assists per game.
Hill, however, got into foul trouble early and finished with only one point and eight assists. Barker didn’t have a great game by his standards either, finishing with six assists and four points.
Instead, it was Barry guard Juan Ferrales’ sharp-shooting that helped the Bucs take the early edge. Ferrales, a Plantation American Heritage grad, had 22 points and hit a season-high five three-pointers in the first half. Forward Yunio Barrueta, a Hialeah Gardens grad, had 20 points and eight rebounds for Barry (6-1).
Down the stretch, Indianapolis made adjustments to defend Ferrales on the perimeter and limit him to only six second-half points.
Trailing 76-73 with 15 seconds left, the 6-2 Ferrales was guarded by the taller 6-7 forward Joe Lawson and forced up a three-pointer that missed everything. Indy grabbed the rebound and hit two more free throws to put the game out of reach.
“They wanted to keep someone fresh on me at all times in the second half,” Ferrales said. “I guess just playing in the moment I put up a shot thinking I had a little less time than I did.”
Barry also shot only 50 percent at the free-throw line in the second half, well below its 72.8 percent average for the season, allowing Indy the chance to come back.
Barry outrebounded Indy 43-40, but the Greyhounds’ frontcourt of 6-7 forwards Brennan McElroy and Joe Lawson helped them make more from the offensive rebounds they collected as Indy outscored Barry 22-9 in second-chance points.
“Their execution down the stretch was outstanding,” Estes said. “It’s a learning experience for us. But you can tell they are a confident, experienced and well-coached basketball team.”
▪ Barry’s women’s team (6-2) defeated Daemen 74-64 in a game played Tuesday night. The Bucs (6-2) rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit, and had five players score in double figures. Amra Elezovic led Barry with 18 points and nine rebounds.