NORTH NEWTON — Look who’s in first place in the KCAC.
McPherson College’s women.
So what if it’s just through one week of the 10-week season? The Bulldogs, by virtue of their 68-58 victory over Bethel on Saturday, are 2-0 in the KCAC and tied for the top spot with Oklahoma Wesleyan and Tabor, while Friends and Saint Mary are a half-game back at 1-0.
And both Mac wins have come on the road.
The Bulldogs, picked ninth in the KCAC in the preseason, never trailed in the game. However Bethel, after being down by 12 points in the third quarter, knotted the game at 53-all with 3:13 left.
But from there, the Bulldogs entrusted the ball to senior standout Bailey Brown. She tallied nine points the rest of the way as Mac outscored Bethel 15-5 to close out the game.
Brown, who finished with 22 points including 16 of 18 at the foul line, also a defensive dynamo, limiting Bethel’s top scorer Lauren Aldrich to 11 points after she had burned Oklahoma Wesleyan for 28 just two days earlier.
“Bailey is our best on-ball defender,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team is now 3-5 overall. “We were worried about wearing her out on defense a little bit, but Bailey is tough and she just played her heart out.”
The Bulldogs led 32-23 at the half, but the Threshers charged back with a 20-point third quarter to pull within four. Foul trouble plagued both teams as as they combined for 61 in the game, resulting in 78 free throws being shot.
Mac made 32 of 46 at the line, while the Threshers hurt themselves by going just 16 of 32.
Ashton Bruner added 10 points for Mac, as again its depth was crucial as Reimer employed 12 players. The Bulldogs, for one of the few times this year, won the battle of the glass with a 52-36 rebounding advantage. Brown and Amanda Allen led with eight apiece and Bruner had six.
No Thresher scored in double figures other than Ulrich.
Mac returns home on Tuesday to take on Ottawa.
Mac (68) — Bruner 10, G. Smart 7, Brown 22, S. Smart 9, McClellan 7, Battle 2, Kelly 3, Allen 8.
Bethel (58) — Scott 5, Ulrich 11, Gerlach 2, Schunn 4, Schmeider 8, McKinney 7, Chapple 9, Carbonell 4, Schroeder 8.