Barnes, Shaffer lead Senators to victory
RENO – Brian Barnes missed his first five shots from the floor, and you had to wonder if it was going to be one of those nights for him.
Barnes went 5-for-8 after that, including a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and Brennan Shaffer made six free throws in the final 77 seconds to spark Carson to a tough 53-44 road win over Damonte Ranch in a Sierra League game Friday night.
“They knew what they had to do,” Carson coach Bruce Barnes said after his team improved to 9-2 in league. “Damonte Ranch is vastly underrated in every single game they play.
“Winning a game on the road is big, whether you win by one or win by 20. I’ll take either one. Down the stretch a couple of guys stepped up (at the line).”
It was free throw shooting, however, that almost cost the Senators the game. They were only 4-for-8 in the fourth quarter in the first 5 1/2 minutes before making 10 of their last 16.
Carson trailed 32-26 with 4 minutes, 36 seconds left. Carson held Damonte scoreless the remainder of the third period and the first 2:30 of the fourth period. Carson took advantage of Damonte’s ineptness offensively and went on a 16-4 run to take a 42-36 lead with 4:46 remaining in the game.
Andrew Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer, Josh Peacock followed with a layup and Barnes made two free throws to give the Senators a 33-32 lead with 2:26 remaining in the third. The teams traded turnovers and missed shots the remainder of the period.
Damonte opened the fourth quarter with two turnovers and a missed shot, and Carson capitalized with scores. Shaffer scored from the outside, and after a Peacock steal, Johnson scored on a hard drive to the basket, was fouled and made the ensuing free throw to complete the three-point play for a 38-32 lead. After a Damonte miss, Peacock was fouled and made a free throw for a 39-32 lead.
C.J. Santos hit back-to-back field goals to cut Carson’s led to 39-36, breaking the 13-0 drought in the process. Barnes came down and buried a 3-pointer for a 42-36 advantage.
“He got himself going, and so did Andrew,” said the elder Barnes. “If he hadn’t made that three, he was going to come out.”
“I didn’t start well,” Brian Barnes said. “I couldn’t find my rhythm. Luckily I made a couple and found it. Luckily I made that three. I was going to keep shooting. They are going to go in eventually.”
Containing Matt Nuthall, who seemed to move around gingerly much of the night, was critical to Carson’s success according to Barnes. Nuthall had 10 first-half points, but managed just five in the second half. Santos also was quiet in the second half, scoring just six points.
“We want to try to deny Nuthall or make him go right,” Barnes said. “We want Santos to go left.”
Damonte trimmed the lead to 42-39 with 3:12 to go, but Carson went on a game-ending 11-4 run to sweep the season series with the Mustangs.