The McPherson College women's basketball team picked up a big win, at home on Wednesday night, over the Friends University Falcons 73-64. It wasn't the prettiest of victories, but the Bulldog women did what they needed to do on both ends of the floor to come out on top.
The Bulldogs and Falcons were neck and neck through the first eight minutes and change in the first quarter. McPherson led Friends 15-13 with 1:16 left in the opening period, before the Falcons closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 21-15 lead at the first break.
At the start of the second quarter, it was the Bulldogs' turn to go on a run. They opened the period with seven unanswered of their own, to take a one point lead 22-21, with 6:19 remaining in the half. The Falcons responded with another run, this time outscoring the Bulldogs 10-0 over a four minute stretch. It looked like the Falcons might blow the game open, but the Bulldogs closed out the final two minutes of the half on a 9-1 run, capped off by a huge three pointer by Brooke DeLuca at the buzzer to cut the Falcon lead to one, 32-31, heading into halftime.
The first five minutes of the second half was a back-and-forth affair. There were three ties, and two lead changes over that span of time, but neither team was able to extend the lead past three points. With 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs trailed the Falcons 43-41. Elle Gillen hit a three-pointer on Bulldogs' next possession to put her team up one, 44-43. After stop on the defensive end of the floor, Gillen hit another three-pointer, to put the Bulldogs up by four, 47-43. From there the momentum shifted, and the Bulldogs would not trail again the rest of the way. At the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs led 54-51.
The Falcons made another run early in the final period, to trim the Bulldog lead to one, 56-55 with 6:52 remaining in regulation. In their last two outings, the Bulldog ladies limped to the finish, winning, but hanging on for dear life, as their opponents put pressure on them to make free throws down the stretch. Wednesday's game had a completely different feel about it. This time, the Bulldogs finished the game strong, with their foot on the accelerator.
Over the next four minutes, McPherson went on an 11-0 run to open up a 12-point lead 67-55 with just over two minutes to play. They led by as many as 14 points late, but in the end, they had to settle for a nine-point victory, 73-64.
Ten different Bulldogs found their way into the scoring column, led by Brittany Roberts who added another double double to her season resume, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 boards. She was joined in double figures by Gillen, who came off the bench to score 13 points.
It was a great win tonight", said Bulldog head coach Josh Nichols. "We got off to a bit of a tough start, but we hung in and we were only down one at the half. In the second half Elle [Gillen] heated up. and Brittany [Roberts] found her touch. I thought our defense was the key to the second half." Nichols finished by adding, "It was great to get a win over Friends for the first time in 10 years."
With the win, the Bulldogs are now 10-16 overall, and 6-14 in conference play. They currently sit in 10th place in the KCAC standings, and are on the outside looking in, for a spot in the end of the year conference tournament, with four games to play. They have a chance to move up in the standings as they host the Bethany College Swedes at the Sport Center on Saturday. The Swedes currently occupy the eighth spot at 8-11 in conference games. Tipoff between the intra-county rivals is slated for 5 p.m.