NORTH NEWTON — It was a basketball game, quite frankly, that McPherson College’s men had to have.
And they got it.
The Bulldogs used a strong second-half performance Saturday night to pull away for a 75-63 victory over a Bethel team still looking for its first win of the year.
“Honestly, no offense to Bethel, but the fact they hadn’t won a game, we felt this was a big game for us,” McPherson College coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “We needed this to boost our confidence. When you look at the conference, every game is going to be a battle.”
Mac is now 1-1 in the KCAC and 3-4 overall after snapping a four-game losing streak.
The game was tight throughout — Bethel led 35-34 at the half — and it wasn’t until a Dee Roberts-fueled 16-3 sizz created some space between the teams. Roberts, who can get smoking-hot in a hurry, scored nine points in less than 2 minutes as the Bulldogs opened the lead to 61-47 and held off numerous late charges by the hard-playing Threshers.
Mac played its best defensive half of the year as it gave up 28 points after intermission.
“We have felt all year we have a chance to be pretty good,” said Swartzendruber, who scored a win over his alma mater. “We still have a ways to go, but it was nice to defend. I really felt like we defended well the whole game.”
The Bulldogs, who struggled rebounding the first half, took over glass supremacy in the second half, thanks to Reed Rowell. The 6-8 transfer who played his prep career at Washburn Rural, finally broke loose with 16 rebounds to go along with his 13 points.
Roberts, who had only three points at half, finished with 18 to lead the Bulldogs. Chris Crook scored 14 and Ramon Martinez added 12.
Chase Bannister and Rayjon Craig, both off the bench, led Bethel with 13 points. Deven Goodwin chipped in with 11. The Threshers had double the free throw attempts, making 15 of 22 while the Bulldogs visited the stripe infrequently, going 8 of 11.
The Bulldogs are home on Tuesday to take on Ottawa.
Mac (75) — Martinez 12, O’Hara 9, Rowell 13, Crook 14, Lakin 2, Lowe 4, Bachura 2, Roberts 18, Parker 1.
Bethel (63) — Miller 8, Goodwin 11, Kingsley 5, Walker 6, Cape 2, Bannister 13, Craig 13, Fort 5.