WICHITA— The past few seasons, there have been some exciting games between the McPherson College men's basketball team and the Friends University. Wednesday evening, the Bulldogs and Falcons met again on the Falcons' home floor, and the two teams did not disappoint. The game came down to the final possession, and the Falcons escaped with a 74-72 victory.
The first fifteen minutes of the opening half was characterized by scoring runs. Tied at ten at the 14:45 mark, the Falcons went on a 14 to 3 run to open up a double digit lead over the Bulldogs 24-13. The Bulldogs then responded with a 13-2 run of their own to tie the game back up at 26. The final five minutes of the half were relatively even with five ties, but ended with the Falcons scoring six of the final eight points to take a four point lead into the break, 41-37.
The second half was neck-and-neck. There were five ties, and the lead changed hands three times. The Bulldogs came out of the intermission and quickly grabbed their first lead since the 14:30 mark in the first half. They led by as many as five points with 13:35 left in the game, but couldn't pull away from the Falcons. The Bulldogs stayed even with or in front until the eight-minute mark when the Falcons retook the lead 59-58. The game was tied three more times in the final eight minutes, but the Bulldogs never regained the lead the rest of the way.
Dorian Paige split a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left to tie the game for the final time at 72, but on the next Falcon possession, their top scorer, James Conley, hit a bucket in the paint with 11 seconds left to put his team up 74-72. The Bulldogs had one final attempt, but a three pointer from Kemryn Jenkins at the buzzer came up just short.
The Bulldogs had two players finish in double figures, led by another big game from Fred Watts. Watts finished with 21 points, and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line, joining him in double figures was Paige with 15, led the team in assists with five. Myles McCrary had his best game of the year. He came off the bench to score a season career-high nine points.
"We competed at a high level again," Bulldogs' coach TJ Eskildsen said. We just need to get over the hump to make winning plays at the end of the game. Fred watts was huge for us again. We need to move on quickly and get ready for a very good southwestern team on Saturday."
The Bulldogs are now 4-3 on the year, and 1-2 in KCAC play. As Coach Eskildsen mentioned, the Bulldogs have a short window to prepare for their next opponent. They will be back on the hardwood on Saturday when they take on the Southwestern College Moundbuilders, who are in uncharted waters, having opened up conference play with three straight losses. The Bulldog and Moundbuilder men will tip off at 5 p.m. following the women's game at 3 p.m.