TC men beat Mac in dramatic fashion, 78-76

If circumstances surrounding a basketball game can ever fit in to the old saying about desperate times calling for desperate measures, the flurry at the end of Thursday night’s game indicated that the Tabor College men’s team was in dire need of a win.

If they needed a morale boost, a 78-76 comeback triumph over the McPherson College Bulldogs may also have been just what the doctor ordered.

But McPherson gave nothing away on Thursday night.

Coming off of consecutive losses, Tabor fell behind early and trailed by seven or more points for nearly all of the first half.

Even as they rallied behind hot shooting, the Bluejays struggled to slow the McPherson offense which, led by Cody Dickerson, seemed to create open shots on nearly every possession.

But Tabor rattled off big runs twice in the second half behind senior guards Andy Brubacher and Tyler Weinbrenner.

With the Bluejays trailing by 10 points after the intermission, Brubacher stepped behind a Greg Munroe screen and drilled a 3-point shots.

The bucket was of added importance because McPherson had continued to pour in the steady stream of layups, free throws and 3-pointers that it had in the first half.

As the half ticked toward its midpoint, it was obvious that Tabor’s shooters were not going to go quietly into the night.

At 14:36, Tyler Weinbrenner took a pass from Mike Stoecker at the top of the key and unloaded a 3-pointer that sparked a 10-2 run that tied the game.

But the tie lasted only a moment, and the Bulldogs rebuilt their lead to nine points with 8:29 left in the game, and did everything to keep it there.

McPherson forward Zach Kimble followed up teammate Scott Bradley’s missed 3-point shot with a tip-drill layup that made it 71-62 with 7:38 to go, and Mitch Arnett made it 73–64 with a pair of free throws at 6:50.

But the Bluejay defense stiffened and Kyle Kroeker hit a 3-pointer two possessions later that trimmed the gap down to six.

Weinbrenner took a cross-court lob pass from Casey Hillman and cut McPherson’s lead down to 75-72 with another 3-point shot.

It was the seventh 3-pointer the Bluejays made down the stretch, and it came with 3:32 to play.

Tabor’s defense carried the team the rest of the way.

Stoecker picked up a loose ball foul-his first and only foul in the game-with 2:32 remaining, and McPherson called time out.

But the Bulldogs never got a chance to run whatever play they called, as Stoecker and Mike Willis hounded the recipient of the ensuing inbounds pass into turning the ball back over to the Bluejays.

Brubacher scored a layup in transition and made it 75-74 with 1:53 to go.

After Dickerson went to the free throw line and scored McPherson’s only point in the final 3:47 of the game, Brubacher tied it at 76-76 with another layup.

The game-tying score came at 1:02 as Tabor cleared the lane for Tyler Weinbrenner, who drove into the circle at the top of the key and bounced a pass to Brubacher, who slashed out of the corner for a layup along the baseline.

But there was no bigger sequence in the game than Greg Munroe’s final minute.

After standing his ground in the lane against Bradley and forcing the turnover that gave Tabor the ball with 19.6 seconds to play, Munroe iced the comeback with a putback dunk with no time left.

Brubacher cut to the rim and warded off heavy pressure from the McPherson point guard well enough to lay the ball up off the glass.

And when Brubacher’s shot caught the front of the rim and hopped off of the cylinder, Munroe simply outjumped Arnett and threw down the winning points as time expired.

Munroe celebrated, was mobbed by his teammates and was eventually helped back to his feet.

With a meeting against Saint Mary in Hillsboro on Saturday night, it remains to be seen whether the win will help put the team as a whole back on its feet.

McPherson had four players in double-digits-Dickerson (21 points), Bradley (13), Arnett 12 and Kimble (11)-but slipped to 5-6 in the KCAC.

Tabor got double-figures from Brubacher (23 points), Tyler Weinbrenner (16) and Munroe (11) and improved to 5-6 in conference play.

The teams are now tied in the standings with Bethel and are a half-game behind 5-5 Sterling.

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