The saying “that’s the way the ball bounces” is a tired, old cliche.
Never did it seem more true than Saturday, though, when Sterling’s men outlasted McPherson College 84-74 at the Sport Center.
Every bounce off the rim seemingly ended up in the hands of a Warrior player as Sterling used a 43-35 rebounding advantage and numerous put-backs to improve to 6-4 in the KCAC while the Bulldogs are back in last place at 2-7.
“Again, rebounding has been such an issue for us all year,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team did have back 6-8 center Reed Rowell but he was limited to 18 minutes after missing a boatload of games with a sprained ankle. “They had only four offensive rebounds in the first half, but eight in the second half. It seemed like they’d miss a little shot or a ball would get deflected and fall into one of their post man’s hands.”
Swartzendruber said that, and the fact his team made just 26 of 66 from the field, added up to the Bulldogs’ 13th loss overall against six wins.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball very well in the second half. That was the biggest disappointment,” Swartzendruber said.
Mac, after a respectable 14 of 30 in the first half, was 12 of 36 in the second half, 4 of 14 from beyond the arc.
The game played out like many have this year. Mac started fast, up 8-2, but then gave up a 17-4 run. The Bulldogs crept back to lead 29-28, only to see the Warriors go on another sizz, this one a 14-5 lick.
In the second half, the Bulldogs were able to close within 66-63 and appeared to have momentum, but the Warriors then unfurled a 15-3 burst to lead by as many as 15.
Chris Crook topped the Bulldogs with 21 points, including 4 of 8 from 3-point. Ramon Martinez scored 16, Aaron Bachura 15 and Louis Parker III had a nice game off the bench with 10 points and six rebounds in just 17 minutes.
What make the loss difficult is that Sterling’s 1-2 punch of Josiah Ray and Brandon Givens, who had combined for 59 points two nights earlier, managed just nine apiece against the Bulldogs. Maurice Williams came off the bench for 18 to lead Sterling, Rolando Garnder added 14, Kendall Smith had 12 off the bench (going 6 of 6 from point-blank rage) and Grant Speer tallied 10.
Mac completes the first go-around of the mammoth 20-game conference schedule on Thursday by traveling to Leavenworth to play Saint Mary. In the second half of the season, the Bulldogs play six of their 10 games at home.
Mac (74) — Martinez 16, Bachura 15, Crook 21, Raleigh 4, Lowe 2, Parker 10, Rowell 6.
Sterling (84) — Oyatayo 6, Ray 9, Gardner 14, Speer 10, Givens 9, Jaderston 5, Williams 18, Smith 12, Starks 1.