Bulldogs Take Down 10th Ranked Braves

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McPherson College Athletics

OTTAWA— While all eyes were on a football game down in New Orleans, the McPherson College men’s basketball team, quietly put the rest of the KCAC on notice, going on the road to defeat the 10th ranked Ottawa University Braves 91-88.

The win extends the Bulldogs’ current streak to five games and keeps them perfect in 2020. Monday night’s recipe for the upset was an ample helping of defensive pressure. The Bulldogs were plus 13 in the turnover column, forcing the Braves into 18 miscues while only committing five on their offensive possessions.

Offensively, the difference in the game came at the free-throw line. From the floor, both teams made the same number of shots from the floor (34) and the same number of three-point baskets (10), but at the charity stripe, the Bulldogs were 13 of 18 while the Braves were 10 of 11, giving Mac a three-point advantage.

The Braves jumped out quickly, opening up a double-digit lead with a 13-2 run in the first four minutes of action, but the Bulldogs, like they have done on several other occasions this season, weathered the early storm and found a way to grind their way back into the game. At the 10:58 mark of the first half, Mac had worked themselves all the way back to within 1, 21-20, and four minutes later they took their first lead of the game, 32-30.

With 3:54 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs had built up an eight-point lead, 43-35, before the home team finished the half on a 9-2 run to trim the Bulldog lead down to one, 45-44 heading into the break. After the intermission, the Braves and Bulldogs swapped the lead twice in the first minute and a half. At the 18:42 mark, a three-pointer by Gage McCoy put the Bulldogs up 50-48, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.

The Bulldogs would lead by as many as 11 in the half, and by 10 with under three minutes to play before the Braves would make things interesting down the stretch. Ottawa’s Darryl Bowie, who led all scorers in the game with 26 points went on a tear in the final 2:53. He hit back to back to back three-pointers, all of them with a hand in his face, and a total of four during that span, to get his team back to within four points with a minute to play.

Then he got them to within 1 when he was fouled on a three-point attempt, and he knocked down all three free throws. Staring at an improbable comeback, the Bulldogs again had to gather themselves. Lual Magot was fouled with 20 seconds left. He made the first to put the Bulldogs back up by two but missed the second. On the miss, Fred Watts somehow corralled the rebound and was fouled.

He missed the first but made the second to put the Bulldogs up by three with 15 seconds remaining. There was little doubt who was going to take the final shot for the Braves. Bowie took a shot from about 25 feet out with another hand in his face, but this time the shot was just a little off and the ball caromed off the rim and went out of bounds as time expired.

The Bulldogs had a trio of players finish in double digits in scoring, led by Magot who poured in 19. He was joined by Kemryn Jenkins, who came off the bench to hit five three-pointers and finish with 17 points, and Travon Shelvin, who chipped in 15.

“I am really proud of our guys,” Head Coach TJ Eskildsen said. “They really competed tonight. As a whole team, we stepped up to the challenge against a really good Ottawa team. I hope that we can keep building on our recent success. We have a short turnaround and need to be ready to go against rival Bethany Wednesday.”

With the win, the Bulldogs are now 13-5 overall and finish the first half of the KCAC schedule at 8-4. Monday’s game was the first of three games this week. They will play the second game of the week on Wednesday, against Bethany College, kicking off the second half of the conference slate. Tip-off between the Bulldogs and Swedes is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Sports Center.

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