The McPherson College men’s basketball losses are practically a broken record.
Fall behind big early. Make a rally. Lose at the end.
It’s a pattern the Bulldogs would like to break the last two weeks of the regular season, as Saturday’s 76-74 loss to Tabor at the Sport Center resembled so many losses of the past.
The Bulldogs are now 5-9 in the KCAC and 12-14 overall. Four of their KCAC losses were games that went down to the wire and just a split of those would have them at .500.
“I think the thing that was frustrating, obviously, was there were a number of times where we had the lead, but we never had the lead and had the ball with a chance to extend the lead,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “We just had trouble stopping them, that was the bottom line.”
T.J. Grant’s circus 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer pulled the Bulldogs within 39-30 as again they stumbled early, down as many as 15 points.
It didn’t take long for Mac to climb back in it in the second half as Samson Shivers came out with fire in his eyes. He scored nine early points as Mac got it tied and the Bulldogs took the lead at 56-55 when he bombed in a 3-pointer. From there, it was nip and tuck, with the last tie coming at 73-all. A pair of free throws by Dewayne Biggs put Tabor ahead for good, but the Bulldogs had two chances in their final possession to tie or win. Andrew Thomas blocked a shot that went to Grant, but his hurried shot to beat the buzzer was off.
Once again, the Bulldogs can chalk up a loss to wretched foul shooting. They were a tepid 12 of 22, compared to 18 of 21 for Tabor.
“The free throws jump out at you,” Swartzendruber said. “Bottom line is, though, in a game like this you’ve got to make plays.”
Shivers scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. Brian Johnson tallied 11 and Devirous Johnson had his usual double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Biggs scored 25 for the Bluejays, while Lance Carter came off the bench for 12 and Nick Sauer added 10.
Mac plays Thursday at Kansas Wesleyan and then is back home Saturday to play Ottawa.
Mac (74) — D. Johnson 10, Shivers 20, B. Johnson 11, Grant 9, Berry 8, DeRoo 6, Henson 3, Woods 7.
Tabor (76) — Thomas 9, Sauer 10, Biggs 25, Smith 2, Samuel 9, Rust 5, Loewen 4, Carter 12.
• TABOR WOMEN 74, MAC 57 — The Bulldogs displayed a lot of flashes of excellent play against the second-place Bluejays, but simply weren’t able to sustain them.
The teams were dead-even through the first 10 minutes, 15-15, but Tabor closed the half on a 24-11 rush to lead 39-26. The Bulldogs fell behind by as many as 15, but Aubrey Barton and Callie Atkins keyed a 16-7 run that drew them within 54-48. At that point, Tabor went on an 11-0 sizz to put the game away.
Barton scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Mac, while Atkins scored 11. Janelle Rust led Tabor with 19, but it was wispy guard Nikki Lewis who dominated the game with her speed and ballhandling, scoring 13 points and dishing off nine assists, while committing only one turnover in 36 minutes.
“We had runs and they had runs, they just had the last run,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “All season long we have been pretty good at home, but when we go on the road we’re just not as good. I wish we could play as well on the road as we do at home.”
Mac is now 4-10 in the KCAC and 8-18 overall. It plays Thursday at Kansas Wesleyan.
Mac (54) — Barton 15, Brown 8, Engelbert 8, Gillespie 2, Jefferson 2, Atkins 11, Smart 3, Tejero 3, Ellis 2.
Tabor (67) — Rust 19, Dean 15, Loewen 14, Lewis 13, Zuercher 2, Troxell 2, Janzen 2.