The four games during the McPherson College men’s current losing streak are hauntingly similar.
The Bulldogs, who occupy the bottom spot in the KCAC standings at 2-9 after an 88-74 loss here Saturday to second-place Southwestern, have played each of their conquerors close for about 30 minutes, then hit a lull that leads to a loss.
The Bulldogs have scored 74 points in each of their last three games. They also have allowed more than 80 in those losses and in each game have decidedly lost the battle of the boards.
The rebounding battle was especially significant on Saturday as the Moundbuilders grabbed everything in sight. Mac had a mere one offensive rebound as Southwestern was 19 boards to the better overall, 41-22.
Mac battled tooth and nail, up 54-53 with 13 minutes left in the game. But Myron Fisher, who had not scored all night, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and the Builders took off. That started a 35-20 run to close out the game as the Bulldogs were one-and-done on offense.
“We just have a bad stretch in the second half (every game). We were right there and then we had a bad stretch,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team is now 6-15 overall. “This was almost a carbon-copy of Thursday night. We were down 19-18 on rebounds on Thursday and we get outrebounded 47-29. Tonight, it was 19-15 at halftime... the bottom line is we can’t get stops and rebounds.”
Swartzendruber said he had no problems with the effort, as the Bulldogs played as hard as any game this season, in fact he said the effort has been exemplary the last three games.
Southwestern’s remarkable 1-2 punch of Cameron Clark and Chris Waller, in their final Sport Center appearance, made it memorable. Clark, who will go down as one of the KCAC’s all-time greats, had 27 points and nine rebounds, while Waller had 22 points. They could very well be the best 1-2 combo in the country as they average 45 points a game. With the win, the Moundbuilders are now alone in second place as former Central Christian College coach Matt O’Brien has his best team since taking over in Winfield.
Chris Crook was terrific for Mac with 25 points, including 10 of 11 at the line. Dee Roberts was on fire in the first half with 13, but didn’t score after the break, while Aaron Bachura scored all 11 of his points after intermission.
The Bulldogs were 24 of 52 from the field after making 12 of 24 in the first half. They were a commendable 8 of 18 from 3-point and did nothing to hurt their national free throw ranking of No. 8 by making 18 of 21.
The Bulldogs are home Wednesday to take on Bethel in what basically amounts to a must-win situation if they’re to make the playoffs. The top eight teams get in and Swartzendruber noted his team has to start stringing some wins together as it plays four of its next six at home.
Mac (74) — Martinez 2, O’Hara 8, Bachura 11, Crook 25, Lakin 2, Raleigh 5, Roberts 13, Parker 6, Rowell 2.
SW (88) — Clark 27, Waller 22, Fisher 6, Hunt 4, Monroe 10, Horsch 3, Wallace 3, Smith 4, Surrell 6, Lipsey 3.