For nearly three quarters Saturday at the Sport Center, McPherson College’s women gave Tabor its most challenging game since the Christmas break.
The Bluejays, who have run roughshod over the rest of the KCAC, were up just 39-34 with a minute left in the third quarter.
But a couple of Mac breakdowns led to six quick Bluejay points to close out the quarter for a 10-point lead, then Tabor opened the fourth quarter with a 17-5 blast to key a 62-45 victory, which moved it to 16-0 in the conference.
The loss dropped Mac to 8-9 in the KCAC. Oddly, the Bulldogs are still in position to host a KCAC first-round playoff game, yet could miss the playoffs altogether if it would happen to stumble in the final three games. The Bulldogs are one of four teams with nine losses and Sterling has 10.
The game was incredibly rough. Mac coach Gordon Reimer was visibly upset by how physical the officials let the game get, as Mac’s Reagan McClellan left the game and had her shoulder in a sling after the game. Several other Bulldogs were sporting ice packs on their ankles and knees as much of the action took place on the floor with several slam-bang plays as the safety of the players came into question.
Reimer, in fact, said it had to rank as one of three roughest games he’d ever coached in as his pleas to clean things up were mostly ignored.
Mac was down only 29-24 at the half and played Tabor even for the first 9 minutes after the break before the nationally ranked Jays took command.
Tina Loewen led Tabor with 14 points and Jurnee Reid added 12. Tabor already has clinched the KCAC title even though it has four games remaining, that’s how dominant it has been and how parity has ruled the other 10 teams.
Ashton Bruner led the Bulldogs with 16 points. Bailey Brown added 10.
The Bulldogs, now 11-16 overall, go to Oklahoma Wesleyan on Thursday.
Mac (45) — Bruner 16, Allen 2, Brown 10, Racette 4, Battle 2, G. Smart 6, Kelly 5.
Tabor (62) — Reid 12, Loewen 14, Hurd 6, Zuercher 5, Troxell 4, Bonham 3, Deniston 6, Decker 4, Ediger 4, Short 4.
• TABOR MEN 91, MAC 80 — The Tabor men have the look of a team that could be in contention for the NAIA’s Final Four, with Mac having accomplished that feat in 2012.
The Bluejays, who recruit the world as they have players from all over the United States as well as Grenada, used a quick burst to start the second half to open up a 21-point lead and then fended off a nice Mac comeback that pulled it within nine in the second half.
Tabor’s Lance Carter, who could easily be playing at a higher level as Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber called him the best player in the conference, dominated the game from his point guard spot with 18 points and 11 rebounds, not to mention four assists, many of them spectacular. He had only four points at the half, but ramped up his intensity in the second half.
Malik Brooks scored 17, D’Marco Smith 16 and DaVaghndre Jones 11. Dee Roberts scored 20 in 24 minutes of action to lead Mac, while Chris Crook scored 19, Aaron Bachura 17 and DeAndre Henson 15. The Bulldogs made 14 3-pointers and turned it over only seven times, yet lost track of the Jays early in the second half.
Mac is now officially eliminated from the KCAC playoffs at 3-14. Now 7-20 overall, the Bulldogs play Thursday at Oklahoma Wesleyan.
Mac (80) — Parker 2, Rowell 4, Bachura 17, Crook 19, Roberts 20, Henson 15, Lakin 3.
Tabor (91) — Jones 11, Carter 18, Gibson 2, Smith 16, Brooks 17, Urrutia 9, Baker 4, Horstick 3, Perry 5, Jedneak 6.