McPherson College shot 58.3 percent from the field and placed five in double figures as the Bulldogs posted a 103-89 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball victory over the University of Saint Mary Wednesday night at the Sport Center.
The Spires grabbed the first lead of the game as Bruce Plein drained a pair of free throws just 21 seconds in. The Bulldogs responded at the other end of the court as Grant Munsen knocked down an 18-foot jumper from the left wing to tie the game. McPherson pushed the lead to 11 points near the midway point of the first half, taking a 29-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Chamaje Barideaux.
USM scored the next three points to make it an eight-point game, but the Bulldogs rattled off seven in a row to extend the lead out to 15 points with 8:54 left in the period powered by a 5-for-6 effort at the line after the Spires were whistled for a pair of technical fouls just seconds apart. Saint Mary would not go away, however, outscoring McPherson, 24-11, over the next seven minutes to cut the deficit to just two points on a pair of Demetrius Cady free throws. Cady had eight of USM's 24 points during the stretch, including a trio of 3-pointers.
The Bulldogs closed out the half with seven straight points as the Spires were unable to sustain their rally. Frederick Watts hit a pair of free throws, followed by a three from the corner by Taylor Ellison and a layup at the buzzer by Louis Parker III to give McPherson a 54-45 lead at the break.
Munsen scored the first basket of the second half to put McPherson up by 11, but momentum quickly swung in favor of the Spires as Brett Marsh scored seven straight points to cut the Bulldog lead to four with 17:42 left in the game. McPherson responded with a 25-12 run over the next 8:20 to take an 81-64 lead with 9:22 to play. The rally was keyed by six points each from Parker and Aaron Bachura, who drained a couple of 3-pointers. In the midst of the run, a Teyvon Lundy basket at the 12:40 mark brought the McPherson lead into the single digits for the final time but was answered by another basket by Parker to return the margin to double digits.
A pair of Munsen free throws with 6:19 remaining pushed the lead to its high water mark of 19. USM would counter with an 11-3 run to make it an 11-point game with just 3:36 to play but would get no closer.
Rebounds were at a premium as both teams shot better than 49 percent from the field, but McPherson emerged with a 29-24 advantage.
After hovering at or around 80.0 percent shooting from the field for much of the first half, the Bulldogs ended up shooting 64.3 percent (18-of-28) in the first 20 minutes with four 3-pointers. McPherson cooled off a little bit in the second half to finish at 58.3 percent (35-of-60) overall - the team's second-best percentage of the year. The Red and White were also 9-of-20 from long range and a stellar 24-of-26 (92.3 percent) at the free throw line. Saint Mary ended up shooting 49.1 percent (26-of-53) from the field, including 40.6 percent (13-of-32) from behind the arc and 75.0 percent (24-of-32) at the charity stripe.
Bachura tallied a team-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five 3-pointers in the final home game of his Bulldog career. He also pulled down a team-high six rebounds and had four assists. Bachura - who entered Wednesday's game ranked second in NAIA Division II in 3-pointers made, moved his season total to 97, breaking the single-season school record of 95 he set a year ago. Additionally, he moved his career scoring total to 1,308 points, passing Kelly Unruh (1,305) for 11th place on the program's all-time scoring list.
Parker finished with 18 points off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting, while Munsen chipped in with 16 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists. Watts added 13 points while Garrett Owen had 10 points, six assists and two steals. Jeffrey Oxford nearly made it six in double figures, finishing with eight points, five boards and four assists, while Barideaux added seven points and four assists and Lual Magot finished with six.
Cady finished with a game-high 24 points for the Spires after draining six 3-pointers. Marsh added 17 points and a game-high seven rebounds, while Plein and Edvonte Copeland added 13 apiece.
"Winning these last five games at home has been truly exciting," said head coach Tim Swartzendruber. "Offensively, we are playing with so much confidence. And we have gotten better defensively. I'm happy for Aaron that we could win his final home game. We want to finish strong Saturday at Bethel."
After a rocky start, the Bulldogs finished the 2017-2018 home slate with a 7-9 mark capped by five straight victories.
McPherson closes out the 2017-2018 season Saturday evening with a trip to North Newton, to face Bethel College. The Bulldogs won the initial meeting, 105-99, on Jan. 6 in McPherson for their first KCAC win of the season. The Threshers have struggled as of late, dropping eight of their last nine. Tipoff from Thesher Gymnasium is slated for 7 p.m.