YORK, Neb. — Aaron Bachura scored a career-high 34 points, but York College had six players in double figures as the Panthers topped McPherson College, 115-103, in a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball matchup Thursday night.
As temperatures plummeted into the single digits below zero outside the Freeman Center, the weather could not find a way to slow the hot start of the Panthers, who hit eight of their first 11 shots from behind the arc en route to a 67-point first half.
McPherson held an early 11-6 lead through the first three minutes as DeAndre Henson opened the game by converting a traditional 3-point play and Grant Raleigh and Bachura drained 3-pointers. After a basket by Reed Rowell with 17:14 to play in the half, York responded with a 44-16 run over the next 11 minutes to build a 50-27 lead.
The Bulldogs responded with 11 straight points on a pair of 3-pointers by Bachura, one by Raleigh and a pair of Grant Munsen free throws to cut the Panther advantage to 12 at 50-38 with 4:23 remaining. The teams traded baskets over the next 90 seconds with a Munsen jumper cutting the lead to single digits at 57-48 with 1:58 to play.
York responded with 10 straight points, including five from Cameron Coleman, to push the lead back to 19 points before Ryan O'Hara closed the half with a layup to make it 67-50 headed to the break.
McPherson opened the second half with a 9-2 run to get within 10 just 2:25 into the half. York responded by building the lead back to 16 points and maintained a double-digit lead until the 10:35 mark when a pair of Bachura free throws made it a nine-point advantage at 84-75. The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the lead, cutting the lead to just four points at 101-97 with 3:20 to play after another pair of Bachura free throws, but York responded with eight straight points to put the game out of reach.
The Bulldogs shot a respectable 42.1 percent (16-of-38) from the field and 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from 3-point range in the first half, but that paled in comparison to the numbers posted by the hosts. York shot 65.0 percent (26-of-40) from the field and 57.9 percent (11-of-19) in the first half alone. Both teams cooled off a bit in the second half with the Panthers shooting 48.6 percent (18-of-37) to finish the game at 57.1 percent overall. McPherson shot 39.5 percent (17-of-43) in the final 20 minutes to settle in at 40.7 percent for the game.
The visitors made their mark at the free-throw line, shooting 25-of-32 (78.1 percent) overall. The Bulldogs were bolstered by a 15-of-16 effort in the second half.
McPherson also held a dominating 52-35 advantage on the boards, including 26-9 on the offensive glass and a total of 101 points were scored in the paint — 51 by McPherson.
Bachura was 10-of-19 from the field, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 at the free throw line, en route to his career-high total. He also pulled in three rebounds and had two assists. Thomas Butler and Henson each finished with double-doubles, with Butler tallying 16 points and 13 rebounds and Henson posting 16 points and 11 boards. Raleigh also scored 16 points and had a team-high four assists. Munsen added eight points and five rebounds.
Six Panthers finished in double figures led by Coleman with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He also had five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Keith Mack and Johnny Cooksey each had 20 points, while Michael Johnson, Kameron Malbrough and Drelan Tripplett all had 13 off the bench.
"We showed some fight tonight when we were way behind," remarked head coach Tim Swartzendruber. "I'm proud of our effort overall. York is extremely talented. They made some tough shots down the stretch when we had closed the gap."
The last time a McPherson men's team topped the century mark was Dec. 14, 2014 in a 104-101 win at Bethany.