The McPherson College men's basketball team used a big second half to defend its home court and defeat the Tabor College Bluejays 83-77 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs struggled out of the gate against the Bluejays. They shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first half and were just 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. Yet despite their shooting woes, they were only down six at the break, 33-27, due in large part to Josh Rivers, who had 10 points in the half to keep them within striking distance.
Bulldog coach TJ Eskildsen lit a fire under his team in the locker room at halftime, and the Bulldogs responded. They came out after the break and put up 56 on the scoreboard going 16 of 35 from the floor and pounding the offensive glass. They finished with 18 offensive rebounds, and 11 of those came after halftime.
The Bulldogs outscored the Bluejays in the second half 56-44, and led by as many as 12. Down the stretch the Bluejays hit some key shots, making things a little uncomfortable for the home fans. They hit a big three to cut the lead to five with under 30 seconds to play, but Delvon Hightower split a pair of free throws, putting the Bulldogs back up by six, where it stayed the rest of the way.
Five Bulldogs scored in double figures led by double doubles from Fred Watts 17 points, 11 rebounds, and Lual Magot 14 points, 11 rebounds. Joining them in double figures were Dorian Paige, who had a breakout game with 16 points, and Hightower with 15, and Rivers with 10.
"I was pleased with how our guys responded in the second half," Eskildsen said. "Our seniors, especially Dorian Paige, Lual Magot and Delvon Hightower really responded to be being challenged at halftime. That toughness was great to see."
The win puts the Bulldogs at 4-2 overall, and 1-1 in KCAC play. They will be back on the hardwood Wednesday when they go back on the road for a conference matchup with the Friends University Falcons. The men will tip off at 8 p.m. following the women's game at 6 p.m.