WICHITA — The McPherson College women's basketball shot over 50 percent from the field but committed 30 turnovers as No. 18 Friends University posted an 83-71 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference victory at the Garvey Physical Education Center.
Friends (20-4, 16-1 KCAC) — with its smothering defense — got to work right away, forcing a McPherson turnover after the Bulldogs (12-14, 7-11 KCAC) won the opening tip. April Quiroz drained a 3-pointer on the ensuing Falcon possession to give Friends a lead it would not relinquish.
McPherson kept the game close early on, trailing by just one at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter. The Falcons responded with seven consecutive points and closed out the frame on an 18-4 run to lead 25-10 at the quarter break.
The Bulldogs were held to a pair of field goals — one each by Kristina Battle and Brooklyn Coe — during the stretch. Those were the only shots McPherson attempted as Friends forced seven turnovers.
The visitors kept the hosts from running away with the contest in the second quarter as the Bulldogs outscored the Falcons, 22-21, in the period. Friends pushed the lead to 17 points on a handful of occasions before McPherson rallied late to cut it to 12 on a layup by Danielle Holt with 23 seconds left in the half. After a foul by Coe on the ensuing possession, a pair of Macy Lozen free throws sent the teams to the locker room with Friends holding a 46-32 lead.
The Bulldogs scored six of the first nine points of the second half, cutting the lead to 11 less than two minutes in on a basket by Battle. The Falcons followed with a 16-5 run over the next 6:39, pushing the lead to 22 with 1:33 left on back-to-back 3-pointers by Tiara Bouvia and Makenzie Vining. Another basket by Holt made it a 20-point game headed to the final quarter.
Friends opened the final quarter with seven straight points, grabbing a 72-45 lead on a Vining free throw with 6:51 to play. McPherson continued to chip away at the Falcon lead, though, as the Bulldogs went on a 26-9 run, cutting the lead to just 10 at 81-71 on a Coe free throw with just 19 seconds left. Friends' Krystin Noder hit a shot in the waning seconds to set the final margin at 12.
McPherson finished the game shooting 53.2 percent (25-of-47) from the field, hit 17 of 20 free throws, and won the battle on the boards, 39-24, but could not overcome 30 turnovers.
Holt finished with a double-double, scoring a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and pulling down 14 rebounds. Coe added 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting with a pair 3-pointers. She was also 6-of-7 at the line. Battle was the third Bulldog in double figures with 10 points and four rebounds. Cami Richardson was held without a field goal, but was 4-for-4 at the line. She also pulled down six rebounds, had six assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
Friends shot 46.3 percent (31-of-67) from the field, including 39.1 percent (9-of-23) from 3-point range.
Shann Sellers led five Falcons in double figures with 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds, five steals and a blocked shot. Lexi Evans and Quiroz had 11 points each, while Vining and Akathiotou both finished with 10. Vining has three rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Akathiotou chipped in with four assists.
With four games to play, the Bulldogs sit one-half game back of Oklahoma Wesleyan (11-14, 7-10 KCAC) for the eighth and final spot in the KCAC tournament pending the result of Monday's make-up game between the Eagles and the Falcons in Bartlesville. McPherson has a pair of home games this week, hosting Saint Mary on Thursday and York on Saturday. Thursday's game tips off at 6 p.m., while Saturday's goes off at 3 p.m. Saint Mary took the opening matchup, 101-74, in Leavenworth on Dec. 13, while the Bulldogs topped York, 62-57, in Nebraska on Jan. 5.