NORTH NEWTON — Four McPherson College men's basketball players scored in double figures, led by freshman Chamaje Barideaux with 19 off the bench, as the Bulldogs closed out the season with an 86-79 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference victory over Bethel College Saturday night at Thresher Gymnasium.
There was a finality to Saturday's game. There was going to be no tomorrow, no second chance for the men in Red and White, and the team knew it going in. A potential spot in the KCAC Tournament had fallen away a fortnight before, but the Bulldogs continued to battle on, winning six of their last seven games - culminating with the win over the Threshers.
Bethel grabbed the initial lead of the game on a Sam Morgan fast-break hoop just over a minute in, but McPherson responded with an 18-6 run over the next 7:30 to build a 10-point lead. Taylor Ellison capped the run by draining back-to-back 3-pointers.
A pair of baskets by Trey Sleep drew the Threshers within six with 8:34 to play in the half. The Bulldogs rallied for 12 of the next 14 points to push the lead to 16 on a Frederick Watts layup with 5:51 to play. Aaron Bachura had seven points during the McPherson run. Chase Banister cut the Bethel deficit to 10 on a basket with just under three minutes remaining, but the Threshers would get no closer the rest of the half. The Bulldogs finished the half on a 10-4 run, leading by as many as 18 in the final seconds before Terrell Marshall hit a shot to make it a 44-28 ball game at the break.
McPherson shot 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from the field in the first half with five 3-pointers and was 11-of-12 at the line. Bethel shot 40.0 percent (12-of-30) from the field but was hamstrung by an 0-of-10 effort from behind the arc.
The Bulldogs scored four of the first five points of the second half, taking a 19-point lead when Bachura put back his own miss at the 18:03 mark. The Threshers would chip away at the lead throughout the half, with the final push being led by Banister. Sparked by a pair of free throws that brought the deficit back to single digits with 5:32 to play, he single-handedly outscored McPherson, 10-4, over the next two minutes to draw Bethel to within 75-71 at the 3:35 mark.
The Threshers could not maintain the momentum, however, as the Bulldogs scored seven of the next eight to lead by 10 with just 1:13 to play. Two free throws each by Jeffrey Oxford and Barideaux helped keep Bethel at arm's length.
Barideaux finished with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He was perfect from both the 3-point line (3-of-3) and the charity stripe (4-of-4) while also posting four assists, three rebounds and three steals. Oxford tallied 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting with five boards, three assists and a pair of steals. Lual Magot was the final Bulldog freshman in double figures, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds.
Bachura - who closed the book on a solid career with Saturday's victory - scored 14 points to move his career total to 1,322 - good for 11th on McPherson's all-time scoring chart. He also moved his new single-season mark for made 3-pointers to 99, finishing his career with 268 overall.
Louis Parker III and Watts posted seven points apiece with Watts also hauling in a team-high six rebounds.
Banister scored 25 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four 3-pointers to lead Bethel. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Marshall added 13 points and 11 assists, while Sleep had 10 points.
"Winning our final game and six of our final seven makes for a great end to our year," said head coach Tim Swartzendruber. " I am happy for Aaron (Bachura) that we could end our season on a positive. Our future is bright. Our freshmen showed great improvement through the season and our sophomores and juniors also improved. We are certainly excited about the future. A shout-out to all the students and fans who made the trip to Bethel. We had a great crowd.”