MANHATTAN—The McPherson College men's basketball team opened up the 2018-19 season with a 90-73 win, on the road, over the Manhattan Christian College Thunder.
12 guys saw action for the Bulldogs, and 11 of those 12 found their way into the scoring column. Minutes wise, it was very balanced. All but two of the 12 guys who made it on to the floor played for more than 10 minutes.
The Thunder, who were playing their third game of the season, came out an opened the game by punching the Bulldogs right in the nose, showing they were not intimidated by boys in red. In the first five minutes of action, the Thunder stunned the Bulldogs and jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead. After a timeout by Head Coach Tim Swartzendruber, and a change in a couple of personnel, the Bulldogs began to claw their way back into the game.
A pair of layups by Careino Gurley and Delvon Hightower and two back to back three pointers by Taylor Ellison, and the Bulldogs had trimmed that 11-point deficit to one, 15-14. On their next possession, they took the lead for the first time on a three pointer by Josh Rivers, and they never looked back. By the end of the half, they had turned an 11 point deficit into a 16 point lead.
After the intermission, the Bulldogs maintained a comfortable lead on the Thunder for most of the second half. They led by as many as 24 points with just over 11 minutes to play, before the Thunder went on a little run to try and get themselves back in the game. Over the next six minutes, the Thunder outscored the Bulldogs 21-9 to cut the lead in half, 74-62. The Thunder run was due in large part to the fact that Mac struggled to keep from fouling on the defensive end of the floor. They continued to send the Thunder to the foul line where they were able to score points without time running off the clock.
The Bulldogs weathered the storm from the Thunder and didn't panic. They closed out the final five minutes of the second half on a 13-9 run to finish with a comfortable 17-point cushion, 90-73.
Statistically, the turnovers were dead even at 19 for each team, but the Bulldogs on the rebounding battle 41-32. On offense, the Bulldogs shot 55 percent from the floor, while the Thunder were held to just 40 percent. Manhattan knocked down one more three-pointer, and each team made 20 free throws.
Four Bulldogs finished the game in double figures in scoring, led by Hightower with 16. He was joined in double figures by Ellison with 12, and Lual Magot and Frederick Watts II who each had 10.
"It feels good to get our first win," Swartzendruber said , who is in his 11th year at the helm of the Bulldog program. "We certainly we have things we need to clean up but we shot well and rebounded well. We would love to see great support this weekend in our home Classic."
As Coach Swartzendruber eluded to, the Bulldogs will host their annual "McPherson Classic" this weekend. They will host Dallas Christian College on Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Sport Center, and then finish the weekend against Bacone College on Saturday at 6 p.m.