It was another tough night on the hardwood for the McPherson College men's basketball team. For whatever reason, the Bulldogs have struggled to find their offense when playing at the Sport Center. On Wednesday, which was celebrated as "Dan Hoffman" night, the Bulldogs fell to the Friends University Falcons 95-68.
The game was tight through the first six and a half minutes of action. At the 13:28 mark of the opening half, the Bulldogs trailed the visitors by only one point, 13-12. But from there, the Bulldogs experienced a three minute scoring drought, and the Falcons opened up a seven-point lead, 19-12. With just under seven minutes to play in the half, the Falcon lead had ballooned out to 19 points, and by the end of the half it was at 17, 46-29.
During the intermission, the McPherson athletic department honored Dan Hoffman, who is retiring from the college at the end of the semester, for his 37 years of service to Bulldog Nation as a professor, coach, mentor, and friend. He was presented with a plaque, by Bulldog Athletic Director, Andrew Ehling, and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
After the halftime festivities, which included a free throw contest for the student body, in which the winner received some of Dan Hoffman's favorite treats, the Bulldogs and Falcons returned to the floor for another 20 minutes of action. The Bulldogs trimmed the lead to 16, early in the period, but that was as close as they would get. The Falcons extended their lead to 20 points, 53-33, at the 16:58 mark, and just under five minutes later, the lead was 34. The Bulldogs simply struggled to score the ball, even when they got stops on the defensive end, they couldn't find a way to cut into the Falcon lead. For the game, they shot 37 percent from the floor, making 22-of-58 shots. From behind the arc they were 8-of-21, and at the free throw line, they shot 64 percent on 16-of-23.
Friends, by comparison was lights out. They finished the game shooting 57 percent, 60 percent in the opening half and 55 percent in the final 20 minutes. They knocked down three-pointers at a dizzying rate, finishing the game with 12 made three-pointers in 20 tries for an amazing 60 percent. Their leading scorer, Jordan Murdock, who is second in the KCAC in scoring this year, led all scorers with 26 points, two under his season average.
The Bulldogs had a trio of players finish with double figures in scoring. Josh Rivers and Delvon Hightower led the Bulldogs with 12 each, while Grant Munsen came off the bench to finish with 10.
McPherson head coach, Tim Swartzendruber, summed up the evening saying, "Friends is good I didn't feel like we played very well, but give Friends credit. Their defensive pressure gave us trouble. We missed a lot of shots too. But Friends was good tonight."
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 10-15 overall, and 6-14 in the conference. Like the Bulldog women, they two are currently in 10th place in the KCAC standings. The good news is that the teams right above them also lost on Wednesday night, so the Bulldogs didn't lose any ground. They will need a strong finish, and a little bit of help, to move up into the top eight, and get a chance to play in the conference tournament.