There's no substitute for experience.
A veteran Central Christian College men's basketball team, which includes several three-year players, used its savvy to pull away from crosstown rival McPherson College 78-63 Wednesday night at the Sport Center, the Tigers' first win in Mac's house in 10 years.
The Bulldogs took momentum into halftime on a Ryan O'Hara basket at the buzzer that gave them a 37-36 lead.
But Central didn't allow the Bulldogs to feed off that emotion, dominating the second half from the start. A Michael Gholston 3-pointer with 15:41 left was the firestarter to a 14-2 Tiger sizz and the Bulldogs got it under double digits only once over the final 10 minutes.
Central pounded the glass for a 47-37 rebounding advantage and didn't give up many second-chance opportunities, which had been its weakness in its first two games.
"We played the way we're capable of tonight," said CCC coach Tony Romero, whose team is now 2-1 with all the games against KCAC schools. "I think the guys were frustrated about the Wesleyan game and they learned from it. They took ownership of it and the second half we really buckled down. They stuck to the process, they stuck to the plan and didn't get too emotional. We're a veteran team and I thought our defense created a lot of baskets for us."
Alonzo Stafford scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Tigers, while Gholston, held scoreless the first 16 minutes, came alive to finish with 17. Ernest Burton chipped in 14 important points off the bench, while Daniel Nwosuh and Sam Clayborn scored 11 apiece.
The Bulldogs, still fitting some new pieces together, were led by Dee Roberts with 14 points off the bench. O'Hara and Chris Crook scored 10 apiece, and Ryan Rowell just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
McPherson coach Tim Swartzendruber was disappointed with a second half that saw his team shoot just 10 of 31 from the field, 0 of 8 from 3-point.
"We just didn't shoot the ball very well, it was disappointing," Swartzendruber said. "We got pounded on the offensive glass. We gave up 17 offensive rebounds. I thought that's what kept them in it in the first half. I thought we played really well in the first half, we just don't rebound the ball very well and that's frustrating."
Both teams will be involved in two-day Classics this weekend. Mac goes to Bethel College to take on Haskell on Friday and York on Saturday, with game time 6 p.m. both nights. Central will be hosting its "Classic For Christ," which includes games Friday against Grace University and Saturday against Oklahoma Wesleyan. Friday's game time is 8 p.m., with Saturday's at 6 p.m.
Central (78) — Stafford 20, Warren 2, Nwosuh 11, Clayborn 11, Gholston 17, Jackson 3, Burton 14.
Mac (63) — Martinez 7, O'Hara 10, Rowell 9, Crook 10, Lakin 4, Bachura 5, Roberts 14, Parker 4.
• MAC WOMEN 106, CENTRAL 49 — The Bulldogs could do no wrong as they posted their first victory of the season after four losses to high-level competition, including a pair of NAIA Division I schools.
Mac made 39 of 61 from the floor, 8 of 14 from 3-point and a staggering 20 of 22 from the foul line — including 16 of 16 in the second half.
"Shooting layups really helps your shooting percentage," a pleased McPherson College coach Gordon Reimer said. "We really worked on execution on offense. We really improved in that area. I felt like we played a really great game."
The Bulldogs came out smoking in the first quarter, speeding to a 31-10 lead, and never relented as Reimer brought players in waves and all 11 scored, 10 of them marking in the book by the end of a 53-26 first half.
"This team has got a lot of balance on it. There's a lot of people who can play," Reimer said. "It took a few games to figure it (the rotation) out, but I like the way we're playing."
Amanda Allen came off the bench to match Bailey Brown for a team-high 19 points. Georgia Smart added 14 and Sunny Smart furnished 11 in a reserve role.
Heather Crittenden scored 14 points for the Lady Tigers and Libby Brooks added 11, as CCC fell to 0-3 on the season.
"I was very disappointed with our performance tonight, at both ends of the court," CCC coach Chris Honeck said. "Defensively, we didn't play our defensive rules well at all, which gave McPherson far too many easy lanes to the basket. Offensively, we allowed Mac to dictate how we played. We didn't want to put in the hard work we needed to, to run our sets the way they are supposed to be run, and as a result we settled for way too many jump shots. Bottom line is that we played horribly on a night when Mac played probably as well as they could."
Mac is on the road Monday to play another top-notch team, St. Gregory’s of Oklahoma, before opening KCAC play Nov. 19 at Southwestern.
Central is home Friday and Saturday for a two-day tournament, the Classic for Christ. It plays at 6 p.m. Friday, with Grace University the opponent, with Barclay College the opponent at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Mac (106) — Bruner 7, G. Smart 14, Brown 19, Battle 6, McClellan 8, James 4, S. Smart 11, Jefferson 2, Racette 9, Acklin 7, Allen 19.
Central (49) — Crittenden 14, Brooks 11, Banks 7, Lopez 6, Young 3, Garza 4, Campa 1, Redenbaugh 3.