It was business as usual Saturday at the Heartbreak Hotel, also known as the Sport Center.
McPherson College’s men simply can’t win a close game, even at home.
Their latest heartbreaking loss occurred when they couldn’t hang to an eight-point lead against arch-rival Bethany College and wound up suffering an emotionally draining 79-77 heart crusher.
The Bulldogs are now 2-8 in the KCAC, but have a one-point loss and a pair of two-pointers — and in all three of those games they had the games in hand until late. They also have just one win at the Sport Center this year.
“It's hard to know what to say because we played well enough to win," McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber said. "For whatever reason we don't make the plays down the stretch. We play hard and we are playing better. We just need to get over the hump.”
The Bulldogs spotted the Swedes a 10-0 lead, then outscored Bethany 46-28 for the rest of the half.
Mac tried mightily to hold on to its lead in the second half, but the offense went south, and Bethany’s Cody Harris and Jonathan Gidson proved to be handfuls. The springy Harris, a sure-fire All-KCAC pick, scored 22 points, while Gidson could be the best sixth man in college basketball as he led all scorers with 23.
Chris Crook had the game of his life for Mac with 21 points, one more than Darius Hill. DeAndre Henson scored 14 points and TJ Grant added 10.
The Bulldogs certainly shot it well enough to win, making 51 percent from the field and knocking down 9 of 22 treys for a commendable 41 percent.
Bethany, though, avoided being upset for a second time by the Bulldogs. Mac won the first meeting at Hahn Gym, 104-101.
“Our biggest defensive adjustments that we made were late in the first half, we fine-tuned the adjustments over halftime and played better in the second half," Bethany coach Clair Oleen said. "We made plays when we needed to in the second half to get us back into the game and then over the top once we got there.”
The Swedes remain in the KCAC hunt at 7-3 and are 15-6 overall. They host Ottawa on Wednesday.
Mac, 6-16 overall, also is home on Wednesday to play Bethel.
Mac (77) — Crook 21, Henson 14, Grant 10, Hill 20, Lakin 4, Parker 4, Berry 2, Bevan 2.
Bethany (79) — Harris 22, McLin 15, Peterson 7, Coleman 5, Smith 4, Gidson 23, Huskey 3.