WICHITA — Of all the painful losses for McPherson College’s men this season, Saturday’s 68-65 punch-to-the-gut by Friends may hurt the most.
The Bulldogs, fighting for their playoff existence, let an 11-point lead with 8 minutes left to play evaporate as they’re going to need a miracle to play extra playoff basketball. When the teams met in McPherson, the Falcons overcame a 17-point deficit as they were 2-0 against Mac this year.
With four games left — and powerhouse Saint Mary coming to the Sport Center on Thursday — the outlook is bleak. Mac is 5-13 in the KCAC and 11-15 overall. Worse, it trails eighth-place Oklahoma Wesleyan by three games in the loss column.
The Bulldogs were terrific for 32 minutes. After leading 26-24 at the half, they opened it up to 55-44.
But then they got tentative and tried to milk the clock. Then they couldn’t stop Jordan Murdock as the 270-pound guard scored 15 of his 25 points in the second half.
“The biggest disappointment probably to me is that we’ve been a great free throw shooting team all year and tonight we didn’t make them. We were 9 out of 18 and that was the game to me,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “The other thing was we guarded really well in the first half and the second half we just did not. We broke down too many times.”
Mac had a chance to tie the game in the last second, but a 3-pointer by Garrett Owen was just off.
Aaron Bachura scored 23 points to lead the Bulldogs and DeAndre Henson added 14. Kyler Steadman added 20 for the Falcons and Toby Baxter furnished 15 as three players accounted for 60 of the 68 points, much like the first meeting when they did nearly all the scoring.
Mac (65) — Gurley 4, Henson 14, Bachura 23, Raleigh 5, Owen 3, Windholz 2, O’Hara 4, Butler 4, Rowell 6.
Friends (68) — Murdock 25, Steadman 20, Baxter 15, Ratliff 4, Schmidt 2, Morris 2.
• Friends women 83, Mac 71 —The Bulldogs thankfully may have seen Shann Sellers for the last time.
The soon-to-be first-team All-American, unless there’s an injustice in the voting, scored 27 points, dished for 8 assists, came up with 6 rebounds and had 5 steals to lead the Falcons to the win. And she played nearly 39 minutes even though the Falcons were up as many as 27 at one point as she was an iron woman.
Friends led 25-10 after a quarter, but after that the Bulldogs actually played quite well, including 22 points in the second quarter and 26 in the fourth.
Mac coach Gordon Reimer was pleased with the breakout game for Danielle Holt, who changed positions and responded with career-highs of 24 points and 14 rebounds. Brooklyn Coe also was outstanding with 20 points and Kristina Battle scored 10.
The loss puts Mac at 7-11 in the KCAC and in danger of missing the playoffs. Overall the Bulldogs are 12-14 and have red-hot Saint Mary coming to town on Thursday.
Mac (71) — Holt 24, Zimmerman 2, Battle 10, Coe 20, Richardson 4, Kuhn 5, Van Doselaar 1, Racette 5.
Friends (83) — Sellers 27, Posey 7, Evans 11, Vining 10, Akathioutou 10, Lozen 2, Noder 2, Bouvia 3, Quiroz 11.