YORK NEB— The McPherson College women's basketball team picked up another win on Saturday on the road at York College. The Bulldogs completed an exhausting portion of their season, playing their sixth game in two weeks, by outlasting the Panthers on their home court, 61-55. The Panthers came into the game at 4-17 overall, and just 1-15 in the KCAC, but they have been playing very well as of late.
The Bulldogs were in a fight, from the opening tip. The Panthers played better than their 4-17 record, and although the Bulldogs jumped out to a five-point lead late in the first quarter, they closed out the final 2:34 on a 6-0 run to take a 13-12 lead. In the second quarter, the Bulldogs again took the lead, and this time extended it to six points with just over two minutes remaining in the period. Like they did at the end of the firat, the Panthers responded with another run, this time scoring seven-unanswered points to grab the lead back, 24-23, as the teams headed to the locker room for halftime.
The Bulldog came out hot in the second half. They scored the first 12 points of the quarter to take an 11-point lead, 35-24, at the midway point of the period. After a pair of free throws cut the Bulldog lead to nine, Brooke DeLuca hit a big three pointer to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game, a 12-point cushion, 38-26. But the Bulldogs weren't finished in the quarter. They continued their hot play, and as the quarter wound down, the Bulldogs had extended their lead over the Panthers to 14, 46-32 heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the McPherson ladies picked up where they left off. York scored the first bucket of the period to cut the lead to 12, but the Bulldogs responded with a three pointer by Elle Gillen, on their first possession, to go back up by 15, just 9 seconds into the quarter. However, no lead is safe, when you are on the road in the KCAC. Over the next six minutes, the Bulldogs managed to score just 1 point while the Panthers got on a roll, and scored 11. Suddenly their comfortable 15 point lead, had been cut to 5, 50-45, with 3:37 left on the clock.
The Bulldogs were in a similar situation on Thursday at Southwestern. They had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter only to see the Moundbuilders chip away at it and make things interesting down the stretch. They weathered that storm and held off a late charge by Southwestern on Thursday, and drawing from that experience, did the same on Saturday. They pushed the back out to double-digits, leading again by 10 with under a minute to play, putting the game out of reach by making their free throw. In the final minute, the Bulldogs went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe to ice the game.
Gillen had the hot hand for the Bulldogs. She came off the bench to finish with 21 points, going 6-of-12 from behind the three-point arc, and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Joining here in double-figures were Brittany Roberts and Aysa Tims who both finished with 11 on the night.
"Getting this win at the end of a long two weeks was a bit of a gut check for us," Bulldog head coach Josh Nichols said. The miles we have logged, and the minutes we have played caught up with us, and I thought we played sluggish from the tip and struggled through the rest of the game." Nichols lauded the play of a couple of individuals saying, "I Thought Elle [Gillen] and Julie [Olvera] gave a spark off the bench and we needed that. At the end of the day six games in two weeks the last two road wins we will take it."
With the win, the Bulldogs move to 9-16 overall, and 5-14 in the KCAC. They have a big rematch with Friends, at home on Wednesday. The Falcons beat the Bulldogs down in Wichita, back on Dec.8. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. at the Sport Center.