LEAVENWORTH —The McPherson College men's basketball team dug itself a hole from which it could not escape Wednesday, trailing the University of Saint Mary by 25 points at halftime and by as many as 30 early in the second half in an 89-77 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference loss at the Ryan Sports Center.
The Spires jumped on the Bulldogs early, scoring 10 of the game's first 12 points. USM built the lead to 11 points just past the midway point of the first half, but McPherson was able to trim the lead to seven at 25-18 on a jumper by Jeffrey Oxford at the 8:34 mark.
The Saint Mary lead was at eight points less than two minutes later when the Spires embarked on a 23-5 run over a span of nearly six minutes to push the lead to 26 points on a Teyvon Lundy 3-pointer with just 49 seconds left in the half. McPherson's scoring during the stretch consisted of a layup by Grant Raleigh and a Taylor Ellison 3-pointer. Ellison added another triple in the final seconds of the half, only to be countered by a Payton Meek layup to give USM a 55-30 lead at the break.
The Spires opened the second half on a 5-0 run to push the lead to 30 at 60-30. The Bulldogs began to chip away at the lead, however, scoring the next eight points to kick off a 29-8 run that got the deficit back to single digits at 68-59 on a Frederick Watts free throw with 8:45 to play. Kenneth Banks scored on USM's next trip down the court to restore the double-digit advantage. McPherson got no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs shot just 34.3 percent (12-of-35) from the field in the first half, including a 4-of-17 effort from behind the arc. They bounced back in the second half, boosting their field-goal percentage to 53.8 percent (14-of-26) while draining 19 of 25 free throw attempts.
Louis Parker III scored a team-high 14 points off the bench. He also pulled down five rebounds. Watts added 13 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Oxford had 12 points before fouling out. Garrett Owen added nine points and five assists, while Aaron Bachura had seven points and three steals.
Saint Mary shot a blistering 65.5 percent (19-of-29) in the first half with seven 3-pointers while going 10-of-13 at the line. The shooting cooled to 42.3 percent (11-of-26) in the final period with just one make from behind the arc. The Spires did make 11 of 14 free throws, which helped keep the charging Bulldogs at arm's length.
Lundy led all players with 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers. He also had four assists and was 7-of-10 at the line. Reid Titus added 19 points, while Brett Marsh had 12. Both Titus and Marsh finished with three assists and Edvonte Coleman had seven points and six assists. Banks finished with eight points and a game-high seven boards.
The Bulldogs now turn their attention to Saturday's matchup with Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The Eagles (13-6, 6-5 KCAC) were 92-65 winners at home over Bethel Wednesday night and took the initial meeting with the Bulldogs by an 82-66 score in McPherson in mid-November. Tipoff from the Mueller Sports Center is slated for 5 p.m.