STERLING — Down 22 early in the second half, the McPherson College men's basketball team staged a furious second-half rally that came up just short in an 84-75 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference loss to Sterling College Saturday night at the Gleason Physical Education Center.
Aaron Bachura scored the first five points of the game as McPherson (1-9, 0-5 KCAC) jumped out to an 11-4 lead just 2:34 into the game. Sterling (3-7, 1-4 KCAC) responded with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to tie the game at 13-13.
The Bulldogs pushed back in front by six with 12:24 to play in the half on baskets by Parkes Wolters, Grant Munsen and Bachura, but the Warriors' JaMiah Windom-Haynes and Kody Crosby scored five points apiece as Sterling scored 10 straight points to turn a six-point deficit into a four-point lead.
After Bachura drained a 3-pointer to make it 34-28 with 5:43 to play, McPherson was held without a field goal for the next 5:08. The Bulldogs were limited to a pair of Jeffrey Oxford free throws before Bachura hit another shot with 35 seconds to play. Trey Dubbert scored with five seconds left to cap a 17-4 run and send the Warriors into the break with a 51-32 lead.
Sterling shot a blistering 63.3 percent (19-of-30) from the field with six 3-pointers in the first half compared to just 35.1 percent (13-of-37) and two 3-pointers for McPherson. The Warriors also held a 19-12 advantage on the boards.
Keyshawn McMahon opened the second half with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 22 points, but McPherson slowly chipped away at the lead. Back-to-back shots by Garrett Owen and Grant Munsen cut the deficit to five with just under five minutes to play, and — after both teams went scoreless for the next 2:34 — Bachura drained another 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with just 2:22 to play.
The Bulldogs were able to muster four more points down the stretch on baskets by Grant Raleigh and Frederick Watts, but the Warriors book-ended seven free throws with a pair of Christian Ohler baskets down the stretch to pull away.
McPherson was 15-of-37 from the field with four 3-pointers but sank just half of their 18 free throw attempts in the second half.
Bachura led the Bulldogs with 20 points on 8-of-25 shooting with three 3-pointers and a team-high-tying eight rebounds. He had 14 in the first half. Munsen and Raleigh finished with 14 points apiece with each player posting 11 in the second half alone. Raleigh added five assists and eight rebounds. Owen and Oxford added seven points each, while Watts and Wolters had six points apiece.
After their hot first half, Sterling struggled to just 29.6 percent (8-of-27) shooting from the field to finish at 47.4 percent overall. They made up for their deficiencies from the field by making 16 of 24 free throw attempts in the second half.
Crosby scored a game-high 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds. Ohler and Leye Oyatayo added 12 points, while Windom-Haynes had 10 and McMahon added nine points and eight assists.
The Bulldogs return to the court Wednesday evening with a trip to Wichita to face (RV) Friends University (5-5, 3-2 KCAC). Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.