OTTAWA — The McPherson College men's basketball team saw a two-game winning streak snapped Saturday afternoon with a 93-83 loss to Ottawa University at Wilson Field House.
McPherson (7-19, 4-14 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) jumped out to an early 14-7 lead behind eight points - including a pair of 3-pointers - from Grant Munsen (Manhattan, Kan., Manhattan HS). Ottawa (10-13, 9-9 KCAC) responded with a 17-3 run, limiting the Bulldogs to just one field goal - a basket by Aaron Bachura (Wilsey, Kan., Council Grove HS) - over a span of nearly seven minutes. McPherson was just 1-of-10 from the field with five turnovers during the stretch.
The Bulldogs bounced back, going on an 18-6 run capped by a Bachura 3-pointer to take a 35-30 lead with 2:51 to play in the half. Ottawa would score six of the final 10 points of the half - three each by Tasmania Indaiana Jones and Hollis Mitchell - but a Jeffrey Oxford (Claremore, Okla., Claremore HS) basket in the final seconds gave McPherson a 39-36 lead headed into the locker room.
McPherson increased its lead to seven points in the early stages of the second half, maintaining that advantage as late as the 14:34 mark when Lual Magot (Tucson, Ariz., Tohono O'odham CC) scored to make it 52-45. The Braves rallied for 10 of the next 12 points over the next three minutes to take a 55-54 lead on a Mason McDow basket with 11:46 to play. The Bulldogs briefly regained the lead on a pair of Bachura free throws at the 10:22 mark, but Isaiah Palmer matched the effort with two of his own and Alex Greisen drained a 3-pointer to put Ottawa up by four, 60-56, at the 9:46 mark. A Taylor Ellison (Tulsa, Okla., Memorial HS) 3-pointer soon after cut the deficit to two, but the Bulldogs could get no closer.
Ottawa used a 10-2 run to build their advantage to eight points with 5:43 on the clock. A 3-pointer by Garrett Owen(Woodward, Okla., Woodward HS)n cut the OU lead to five points at 77-72, but the Braves would get back-to-back 3-pointers from Titus Rice and Palmer to push the lead to 83-72 with 2:34 left in regulation. Ottawa would not attempt another field goal the rest of the way. Bachura scored the next four points, then later drained another 3-pointer to get McPherson back within five with 1:02 to play, but the Braves hit five of eight free throws in the final minute to put the game out of reach.
McPherson was hampered by early foul trouble. In all, the Bulldogs were whistled for 32 fouls compared to 19 for the Braves. As a result, Ottawa spent a significant amount of time at the free throw line. The Braves made 34 of 49 free throws, including 22 of 32 in the second half, while the Bulldogs were 16-of-21 overall.
Ottawa also shot 51.0 percent (26-of-51) from the field and 36.8 percent (7-of-19) from behind the arc. McPherson shot 42.6 percent (29-of-68) from the field and 31.0 percent (9-of-29) from long range. The Braves also held a 43-32 advantage on the boards.
Bachura led the Bulldogs with 17 points and a team-high-tying eight rebounds. Oxford added 14 points and five assists, while matching Bachura with eight boards. Munsen scored 14 points in 13 minutes despite being limited by foul trouble. Owen finished with 12 points and five assists.
Palmer finished with a double-double to lead Ottawa, pouring in 27 points and 10 rebounds. He also had four assists and three blocks. Four other Braves finished in double-figures, led by Mitchell with 14. Jones chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, while Titus Rice had 11 and Alex Greisen had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists off the bench.
"For 30 minutes, we were really good," noted head coach Tim Swartzendruber. "But foul problems and our inability to hit shots against their zone defense ultimately cost us. Give Ottawa credit. They shot great in the second half and made plays down the stretch. We need to bounce back Wednesday at York."
The Bulldogs return to the court Feb. 7 with a trip to York College (14-11, 11-7 KCAC). The Panthers won this season's initial meeting, 103-98, on Dec. 12 in McPherson and are one of five schools within a game of second place in the KCAC standings.
Saturday's loss mathematically eliminated McPherson from contention for a spot in this year's KCAC Tournament.