Forget about the first 39 minutes. McPherson College’s men and Baker should just play a one-minute basketball game and not waste everybody’s time.
For the second time in as many meetings this year, the Bulldogs and Wildcats went down to the wire.
Mac won in the closing seconds earlier this season in Baldwin City and the Wildcats returned the favor 65-63 here Friday night in the opening round of the McPherson College January Classic at the Sport Center.
The Bulldogs led 59-58 with 3 minutes left, but the Wildcats took the lead 63-61 with 23 seconds to go on a basket by Jared Fulks, who provided 17 points off the Baker bench. Samson Shivers tried to put Mac ahead with a 3-pointer that missed and after a pair of Todd Johnston free throws for Baker, the Bulldogs scored at the buzzer for the final margin.
It was the sixth loss in the last seven games for Mac after a 6-2 start. It will try to get back to .500 Saturday night when it takes on Haskell at 6 p.m.
“The disappointing thing for us is that we just didn’t make plays down the stretch,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, who is starting to sound like a broken record as most of the defeats have come late. “We were right there, we had a lead. We just needed to get a defensive rebound there on several possessions and we didn’t get it.”
The Bulldogs led 31-27 at the half, but the final 20 minutes were played in a phone booth. Mac did go up as many as six, 51-45, but back charged Baker. The final tie came at 61-all on a Joey Powers basket for the Bulldogs with under a minute to play.
The Bulldogs received 19 points from Shivers, who was 4 of 8 from beyond the arc but the rest of the team was 1 of 9. Devirous Johnson continued his amazing season with 17 points and 14 rebounds, which should keep him at the top of the national carom chart. Brian Johnson scored 12 points, but only three other Bulldogs scored as the Mac bench continues to provide little offensive punch.
Jauan Wilson scored 12 for Baker and EJ Carter was held to 11, nine of those in the second half. He was averaging nearly 18 coming in.
Swartzendruber was pleased with his team’s defense. Baker shot only 40 percent from the field, just 27 percent from 3-point. Mac also shot 40 percent and was just 12 of 21 from the line, while also getting outworked on the boards with a 43-35 deficit despite Devirous Johnson and Kenny Berry, who chipped in with 10 rebounds from his guard spot.
Mac and Haskell on Saturday will be meeting for the second time this season, with the Bulldogs winning a 75-74 verdict in the season opener at Lawrence.
Mac (63) — Shivers 19, B. Johnson 12, Lakin 5, D. Johnson 17, Berry 2, Powers 8.
Baker (65) — McDaniel 7, Carter 11, Wilson 12, Mills 2, Johnston 9, Sunderland 3, Fulks 17, Watson 2, Parker 2.