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Friends University men's basketball was defeated by McPherson College 81-80 in the semifinals of the KCAC post-season basketball tournament Saturday night at the Garvey PE Center.
The Falcons had defeated the Bethany College Swedes 88-82 the previous evening and were poised to take on the McPherson College Bulldogs who entered the game fresh off a victory over the number one seed in the tournament and conference champion University of St. Mary Spires.
At the end of the first half Friends University held a 36-34 lead, surviving a torrid shooting display by the Bulldogs. The Falcon defense found difficulty in stopping the McPherson shooters who connected on 59% of their field goal attempts.
During the second half Friends University maintained a three to four point lead and at the 5:16 mark held a 73-68 advantage.
Errant shots by the Falcons allowed McPherson to inch closer and with 2:04 remaining the Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 76-74.
McPherson scored with 22.7 remaining to pull ahead 79-78. Friends University called timeout and set up a play to Anthony White who was fouled while attempting to shoot. Connecting on both free throws Friends regained the lead 80-79.
The Falcons continued to lead 80-79 but after a McPherson timeout the with 2.5 seconds remaining the Bulldogs threw the ball the length of the court in an attempt to get off a quick shot. The Falcons Brandon Johnson deflected the ball just beyond the three point line of the McPherson goal. Unfortunately the deflected ball landed in the hands of a Bulldog player who launched a 16 foot jumper that bounced off the back of the rim and down through the net as time expired.
A key statistic in the game was the ability by McPherson College to control the boards. The Bulldogs collected a total of 39 rebounds, of which 27 were defensive caroms. Friends University was only able to amass 20 rebounds and allowed McPherson to collect 20 second chance points.
Four Friends University players scored in double figures. Colton Rausch (18 pts.); Brandon Johnson (16 pts.); Anthony White (13 pts.) and Joe Mitchell (11 pts.) led the offense. The Bulldogs focused their attention on stopping Zach Nelson who led Friends University the previous night with 25 points. Nelson was only able to score 6 points on the evening.
The season comes to an end for the Friends University men who finish with an overall record of 17-13. Entering the post-season tournament the Falcons had been on a on a hot streak winning 10 of 14 games.