YORK, NEB.—After back-to-back losses to start the week, one at home and the other on the road, the McPherson College men's basketball team closed out the week on a high note, going back on the road and defeating the York College Panthers 77-74.
The Bulldogs scored the games' first two points, but then saw the home team score seven unanswered points to take a 7-2 lead. McPherson bounced back, and drew even with the Panthers, 10-10, at the 13:48 mark in the half. The game was tied again at 19 with just under eight minutes left, when the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run, sparked by six points from Lual Magot. As the clock hit zero, the Bulldogs went into the locker room with a 10-point lead, 37-27.
Out of the break, the Bulldogs were able to maintain their double-digit lead for most of the second half. They led by as many as 14 points, with just over 13 minutes to play, their largest lead of the game. The Bulldogs still led by 10 with 3:30 remaining in the game. That is when thing started to get interesting. The Panthers scored six of the next seven points to cut the Bulldog lead in half with a 1:49 left in the regulation. Thirty seconds later, the lead was just one possession, 75-72, and things were getting tense on the Bulldog sideline. After a turnover by the Bulldogs, the Panthers knocked down a pair of free throws, on their next trip down the floor, to get within 1one, 75-74.
Garrett Owen was fouled driving to the basket on the Bulldogs' next possession, but he was unable to convert either of the free throws. The Panthers had the ball down one, with 25 seconds left. They could hold the ball for the final shot, but instead took a quick shot and missed. McPherson got the rebound, and with 11 seconds left, Josh Rivers was fouled in the backcourt. The freshman calmly strode to the line and knocked down both tries, giving his team a three point lead, 77-74. The Panthers had one last chance to try and send the game to overtime, but the Bulldogs came up big on the defensive end, contesting the shot, and forcing a miss. Delvon Hightower grabbed the rebound for the Bulldogs, securing the win.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring by a monster performance off the bench by Frederick Watts II. Watts went 7-of-9 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point land and 4-of-5 from the free throw line, to finish with 20 points. He was joined in double figures with Magot, who was 7-of -8 from the floor for 15 points.
"I'm proud of our guys for getting a win in a tough environment on the road," Bulldog Head Coach Tim Swartzendruber said. "Rebounding was the key, and we knew that going in, and we did what we needed to do on the glass. I was proud of our paly at the end. We had a great defensive stop at the end of the game to seal the victory." Swartzendruber concluded by adding, "Tonight was a key win, but now it is on to Friends. They are outstanding, and we will need a great team effort Wednesday."
The Bulldogs will tangle with the Falcons at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at the Sport Center. It will be a tough game as the Falcons are ranked 20th in the latest NAIA top 25 poll and have the KCAC's second leading scorer in Jordan Murdock, who is averaging 28.3 points per game.