The McPherson College men's basketball team nearly pulled off their greatest comeback of the season, at home, against the Bethany College Swedes. The Bulldogs came from 21 down, but ultimately fell to the Swedes by one, 72-71.
The Bulldogs got off to another terrible start in the first half. The Swedes jumped out to a 7-0 lead, before the Bulldogs finally got on the board with nearly four minutes gone in the opening period. They trailed the Swedes 11-4 at the 15:29 mark before the visitors went on a 12-0 run to take a 23-4 lead with 12:02 left to go in the half.
McPherson finally got their offense going, and began chipping away at the Bethany lead. With 3:48 remaining they got to within 13, 36-23, but then the Swede went on another run of eight unanswered point to extend their lead back out to 21 points, the largest of the game with 90 ticks left on the first half clock. Again the Bulldogs answered, scoring the final six points in the half, to trim the Swede lead back to 15, 44-29, as the two teams headed into the locker room.
The second half was much better for the Bulldogs, on both ends of the floor. They opened the half on a 12-2 run to cut the Bethany lead to single digits, 46-39. Two possessions later the Swedes pushed the lead back out to 11, but then the Bulldogs responded by outscoring the Swedes 10-4 over the next three minutes to get back to within five, 54-49.
Over the next ten minutes of play, the Swedes pushed their lead back out to 11, but the Bulldogs again chipped away at the lead, and with 3:29 left in regulation, they had tied the game at 67. The Swedes then retook the lead 68-67 after Bethany's Lavaris Duncan split a pair of free throws. On their next trip down the floor, the Bulldogs took their first lead of the game, on a jump shot by Chamaje Barideaux. After a defensive stop, Frederick Watts II put the Bulldogs up by 3, 71-68 with just under two minutes to play.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs would not score again. The Swedes cut the lead to one, 71-70, on a layup by Tyler Larkin. On the Bulldogs' next possession they turned the ball over, when Barideaux dribbled the ball off his foot along the baseline. After a timeout by the Bulldogs, Bethany went down the floor, and hit what would be the game winner, an eight foot floater in the lane by Larkin, putting his team up 72-71.
The Bulldogs had one final shot. They had to go the full length of the court, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Garrett Owen dribbled the ball up court, and with about three seconds left, put up a three point shot. It was a little short, but Watts came down with the rebound. He jumped and spun back toward the basket, but his ten footer was blocked by Duncan to end the game.
Three Bulldogs finished the game in double figures in the scoring column, led by Lual Magot ,who had a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Joining him were Watts with 11, and Owen, with 10.
Bulldog head coach, Tim Swartzendruber, summed up the evening saying, "We had a chance and it just didn't go. I'm proud of how we fought back. The second half is something for us to build on for the remainder of the season."
The loss drops the Bulldogs to 10-16 overall, and 6-15 in KCAC games. They will be back on the hardwood Wednesday when they travel to Leavenworth, Kansas, for a showdown with the University of St. Mary Spires. Tipoff Wednesday is slated for 8 pm.