STERLING— The McPherson College men's basketball team made it back to back road wins this week with a 95-73 shellacking of KCAC foe Sterling College. With the win, the Bulldogs move to 6-3 overall, and 3-2 in conference play. Interestingly, all three of their KCAC wins have come away from the McPherson Sport Center.
The Mac men scored the first bucket of the game, a two pointer by Frederick Watts II, but then the Warriors scored eight unanswered points to take an 8-2 lead. At the 14:26 mark of the opening half, the home team held on to a seven point lead 16-9, but over the next three minutes of action, the Bulldogs went on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 19. The Warriors retook the lead, 21-19, on a pair of free throws, but Mac responded with another spurt, this time an 8-0 run, to take a 27-21 lead.
The Warriors got back to with three points with 7:44 to play in the first half, but that was as close as they got the rest of the half. The Bulldogs closed out the first 20 minutes of action on a 15-4 run to extend their lead at the halftime intermission to 14 points, 44-30. The Bulldogs had a great half offensively, shooting 54 percent from the floor overall, knocking down 6-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc. They were led in the half by Jeffrey Oxford who had eight points.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum into the second half, weathering a couple of runs by the Warriors where they trimmed the lead down to six points, but that is a close as they got. With 13:49 remaining on the clock, the Bulldogs had extended their lead back out to 16 points at 63-47. The lead would hover between 13 and 16 points over the course of the next seven minutes. At the 5:42 mark, the Bulldogs pushed the lead out to 18, 79-61. They reached their largest lead of the game, 23, with 23 seconds left, but a free throw by the Warriors in the closing seconds from former Elyria Christian School standout Tyler Thiessen, made the final margin of victory for the Bulldogs 22, 95-73.
On the offensive end of the floor, the Bulldogs had a trio of players finish the game in double figures, led by Chamaje Barideaux, who led all scorers in the game with 26 points. Barideaux was 9-of-18 from the floor, made 5-of-10 treys, and went 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. He was joined in double figures by Watts who had 13, and Garrett Owen, who came off the bench to chip in 10.
Mac was also stingy on the defensive end of the floor. They held the home team to just over 40 percent shooting from the floor, and 31 percent from deep. They had five blocks on the night, four of them by Grant Owens, and forced the Warriors into 22 turnovers, which they then turned into 28 points on the other end of the floor.
Bulldog head coach, Tim Swartzendruber, liked what he saw against the Warriors saying, "This was a great team win. We had contributions from everyone who played. We had stretches where we were very good defensively as well." He went on to point out that they are still a work in progress, and there are areas they can improve."
"We still need to cut down our turnovers and finish better in the lane," remarked Swartzendruber, "but it was good to see us make some perimeter shots tonight." He wrapped things up by adding, "We have a big challenge on Saturday, and would love to see a nice crowd out cheering us on."
The "big challenge" Swartzendruber mentioned is their match up Saturday with the Southwestern College Moundbuilders. Southwestern is currently undefeated on the season at 9-0 overall, and 5-0 in KCAC play. They have the second leading scorer in the conference in senior guard, Cameron Hunt, who is currently averaging 29.71 ppg, just behind Friends' Jordan Murdock who is at 30.43. Tipoff between the Bulldogs and Moundbuilders is scheduled 5 p.m. following the women's game.