The forecast for the McPherson College women’s basketball team is starting to look much more sunny.
Sunny Smart’s 3-pointer with 32 seconds left here Thursday broke a 60-all tie with Southwestern Christian University and Mac then fended off the Eagles’ try for a tie as it came away with a 63-60 victory, its second straight after five losses in a row.
The 3-pointer capped an 18-point night for Smart, who made 4 of 5 shots from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-10 overall and they are 3-2 at home, the only losses coming on a buzzer-beater by Ottawa and a basket with 2 seconds left by Friends. They could easily be 5-0 at the Sport Center, where they’ll spend much more time once the 2016 portion of the schedule rolls around.
It's the second straight thriller at home, as Mac upset expected KCAC contender Oklahoma Wesleyan in overtime just 48 hours earlier.
"A month ago we would have probably lost our composure on something like this, but we've gotten so much smarter with the basketball and what we're doing at the end of close games," Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. "We're starting to get confidence in how to finish games."
This was one of wild swings. Mac led by five points in the first quarter, only to see the Eagles come back to go up by as many as 10 in the second quarter. However, Mac finished with a rush to close within 33-31 at the half.
The Bulldogs crept ahead 45-44 by the end of the third quarter and led by as many six, 60-54, with 2:02 remaining.
The Eagles, as they had done all game, buried a pair of 3-pointers to tie it with a minute to go, but Smart knocked down a long trey for the emotional victory.
"I challenged her in practice here a week ago because it wasn't the same Sunny of last year," Reimer said. "And she responded real well."
Ashton Bruner just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Reagan McClellan had a nice floor game off the bench, scoring six points, grabbing four rebounds and passing for three assists. She also had two key steals that she converted into layups at crucial moments in the game.
The Bulldogs had to overcome some terrific long-range shooting by the Eagles, who made 10 of 23 from beyond the arc. Maranda Janz knocked down 6 of 8 and finished with 23 points to lead the Eagles, who did not receive a single point from their bench as their starters did all the heavy lifting.
Mac now has a break until Dec. 29-30 when it plays in the La Quinta Classic in Salina against two very good teams in Dakota State and Mount Marty College.
Mac (63) — Bruner 14, Allen 9, Brown 9, S. Smart 18, Battle 2, Racette 2, G. Smart 3, McClellan 6.
Southwestern Christian (60) — Johnson 12, Hadley 11, McGill 12, Janz 23, Severin 2.