BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The McPherson College men's basketball team overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to lead inside the final minute of play, but could not hold the lead, falling to Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 79-78, in a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup Saturday at Mueller Sports Center.
The Eagles scored the first six points of the game and led 8-2 behind six points from Breiman Alexander after just two minutes. The Bulldogs responded with a 3-pointer from Aaron Bachura and a basket from DeAndre Henson to momentarily get back into the game.
Oklahoma Wesleyan followed with a 14-7 run to build the lead to eight with 11 minutes left in the half, but McPherson erased that deficit over the course of just three minutes. The Bulldogs scored 10 straight points — the last five by Chris Crook — to take a 24-22 lead.
McPherson played from in front for the next four minutes, nudging ahead only to see OKWU continually draw even with either a made basket or a pair of free throws. The Eagles finally retook the lead on a 3-pointer by Jacob Feikert with 3:43 left. The basket keyed an 11-2 run for the hosts, who moved ahead 37-30 as the clock ticked under the 2:00 mark. The Bulldogs rallied for the final seven points of the half, getting a basket from Grant Raleigh and a trey from Henson before Crook hit a floater with four seconds left to send the teams in the locker room tied at 37.
The teams traded the lead to open the second half, with McPherson grabbing a 42-41 lead when Careino Gurley completed an old-fashioned 3-point play. Oklahoma Wesleyan scored 14 of the next 17 points to erase the deficit and build a 10-point lead with just under 13 minutes left to play. The lead would eventually extend to 13 points on a couple of occasions — the latest coming at the 5:28 mark when Michael Davis drained a 3-pointer with 5:05 left to put the Eagles up 75-62.
The Bulldogs used a 16-1 run over the next 4:30 to take a 78-76 lead when Crook sank a pair of free throws with 38.6 seconds left to put McPherson up 78-76.
On Oklahoma Wesleyan's next trip down the floor, Elbert Lawrence sank a layup to tie the game. Fouled in the act of shooting, he made the ensuing free throw to give the Eagles the one-point edge.
Holding for the last shot, Crook drove to the hoop, but could not connect. The loose ball caromed out of bounds off an OKWU player giving McPherson another opportunity with 4.1 seconds left. Grant Munsen received the ensuing inbounds pass underneath the hoop, but his fadeaway attempt missed the mark and Shaqur Martin grabbed the rebound to secure the Eagle victory.
OKWU had the slightly better night from the field, hitting 45.5 percent (30-of-66) compared to McPherson's 42.2 percent (27-of-64). The Eagles also had the better night from behind the arc, hitting on 10 of 23 opportunities (43.5 percent) compared to just seven of 27 (25.9 percent) for the Bulldogs. McPherson was able to stay in the game at the free-throw line, where the visitors went 17-for-19. OKWU was not horrible, by any means, sinking nine of 14 from the charity stripe. The hosts held a slim 39-36 edge in rebounds and both teams finished with 10 turnovers and 18 points in the paint.
Four Eagles finished in double figures, led by Alexander with 20. He was 7-of-22 from the field with three 3-pointers, four rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot. Lawrence added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Jack and Feickert chipped in with 11 apiece. Patrovick Everett had eight points and nine rebounds and Martin had five points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
McPherson also had four reach double-digits in scoring, led by Crook with a game-high 22 points off the bench. He was 6-of-15 from the field with a pair of threes and hit eight of nine free throws, while pulling down five rebounds and posting two assists and two steals. Gurley had 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal. He was 3-of-4 from the field and 5-of-6 at the free throw line. Bachura added 11 points with three 3-pointers and Henson had 10.
Crook passed Bill Smith (1,153 points) and Antonio Ford (1,141 points) into 15th place on McPherson's career scoring chart. He now has 1,161 career points.
"Those are tough to lose," said head coach Tim Swartzendruber. "Our guys did a great job coming back. I thought we would win after we took the lead. [It's] just unfortunate. We have to be ready to bounce back next week."
The Bulldogs return to the court Wednesday with a KCAC matchup against Bethel College at the Sport Center. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. The Threshers took the initial matchup between the schools, 84-64, on Dec. 1 in North Newton.