If the shots aren’t falling, then turn to your defense.
That’s what McPherson College’s women did here Thursday night.
The Bulldogs, despite a 31-percent shooting night from the field, overcame a slow start for a comfortable 54-39 victory over county rival Bethany College as they strafed the Swedes into a 25-percent shooting night.
Mac once again gets back to .500 in the KCAC at 8-8 with four games remaining. After the top three teams — Tabor, Friends and Oklahoma Wesleyan — there’s a tremendous bottleneck of teams near or at the .500 mark. Southwestern, which Mac has defeated twice, is 8-7, and the Bulldogs and Kansas Wesleyan are at 8-8, a half-game up on Saint Mary. Ottawa is 7-9. Some teams have played one less game because of the unbalanced schedule due to there now being 11 teams.
The Bulldogs, 11-15 overall, stumbled out with a miserable first quarter, missing 11 of 13 shots to trail 12-4.
“I can’t explain the slow start,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “I know we’ve had a lot of sickness on our team this week. Just felt like a game without energy. But we picked it up and had a really good second quarter.”
Reagan McClellan’s nifty basket with 2 seconds left in the half gave the Bulldogs a 20-18 lead going into the locker room. Reimer thought that gave Mac the emotional boost it needed as it dominated the second half, leading by as many as 15.
Bethany was just 13 of 52 from the field and an ignominious 0 of 16 from 3-point as the Bulldogs got out on the Swedes’ shooters and never offered a clean look.
Offensively, Bailey Brown once again starred for Mac, making 10 of 10 free throws on her way to 20 points. Once again, the tireless senior played 38 minutes.
Ashton Bruner overcame foul trouble for 10 points. Mac got a nice game off the bench from Georgia Smart with eight points, while Brooke Racette celebrated her first start with six points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes of play.
Dominique Davis and Paige Stewart led the Swedes with nine points apiece. Mac did a solid job on Swede center Kimi Lindshield, who had been on quite a roll coming into the game, holding her six points.
Mac hosts unbeaten KCAC leader Tabor on Saturday, while the Swedes, fighting for their playoff life at 4-11, goes to Sterling. The Swedes are 8-16 overall.
Mac (54) — Bruner 10, Brown 20, Racette 6, McClellan 2, Battle 5, G. Smart 8, Kelly 3.
Bethany (39) — D. Davis 9, Stewart 9, Chanco 6, Lindshield 6, Ahaneku 5, Peters 4.