The McPherson College men's basketball team shot a season-best 53.8 percent from the field en route to a 78-71 victory over Sterling College in Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference play Saturday night at the Sport Center.
The Bulldogs (6-18, 3-13 KCAC) led virtually from start to finish, conceding only a pair of small leads in the game's first five minutes. Trailing 7-5 after a basket by the Warriors' JaMiah Windom-Haynes at the 16:48 mark, McPherson rallied for six straight points on a pair of inside baskets by Frederick Watts and another by Grant Munsen to take an 11-7 lead.
The Bulldogs eventually built the lead to 15 points aided by a couple of 3-pointers from Chamaje Barideaux and capped by a pair of big plays by Lual Magot. First, Magot brought the house down with a thunderous two-handed jam, then he stepped back and drained his first 3-pointer as a Bulldog to put McPherson up 34-19 with 7:45 to play in the half.
Sterling (7-16, 5-11 KCAC) rallied with a 14-5 run capped by a basket by Sean Nordberg basket to trim the McPherson lead to just six with 1:31 remaining. Magot added two more baskets in the final minute, outscoring the Warriors, 4-3, by himself to give the Bulldogs a 43-36 lead headed to the break.
The visitors continued to chip away at the McPherson advantage as the second half began, getting within two at 48-46 on a Kody Crosby 3-pointer at the 16:16 mark. The Bulldogs followed with 12 of the next 14 points to lead 60-48 with 10:52 left in the game. McPherson maintained a double-digit lead as late as the 6:30 mark as Sterling used an 8-0 run to cut a 12-point advantage to just four at 64-60 with 5:45 remaining. A basket by Keyshawn McMahon made it a three-point game with less than three minutes to play, but the Bulldogs outscored the Warriors, 9-5, down the stretch to close out the game. McPherson got baskets from Watts and Munsen and sank five of six free throw attempts to ice the game.
The Bulldogs went 28-of-52 from the field overall, including 17-of-29 (58.6 percent) in the first half. McPherson was equally as sharp from long distance, finishing the game 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) from behind the arc after a 7-of-12 effort in the first half.
Sterling shot a respectable 44.8 percent (26-of-58) from the field but were just 23.1 percent (6-of-26) from 3-point range after entering the game averaging 9.14 3-pointers and shooting 34.5 percent as a team from behind the arc. Both teams were 13-of-19 at the charity stripe.
Aaron Bachura tied for game-high honors with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting with five 3-pointers, six assists and four rebounds. Now with 1,194 career points, he moved past Chris Crook (1,183 points) into 15th place on McPherson's all-time scoring chart. Next on the list is Brian Hill in 14th place with 1,228 points.
McPherson, which has won two of its last four games and gone to overtime in the other two, entertains Friends University Wednesday night in another KCAC matchup. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. from the Sport Center.