McPherson College’s women answered the “will they or won’t they” question here Saturday when it came to whether or not they would make the KCAC Postseason Tournament.
Not only did the Bulldogs outlast Saint Mary 71-67 on Senior Day at the Sport Center — knocking out the Spires in the process – they wound up with an upper-division finish as they took fifth out of 11 teams with a 10-10 KCAC record, a huge improvement over last year’s 3-15 mark.
Mac, 13-17 overall, goes to Southwestern of Winfield for a 7 p.m. playoff game on Wednesday. The Bulldogs won both meetings this season, but the Builders have been a hot team as of late, though they lost at home on Saturday to Oklahoma Wesleyan in the game to decide third place for the regular season.
It was another gutty performance by the Bulldogs, who again came out slow by spotting the Spires the game’s first seven points. Mac, though, battled back to lead 34-30 at the half, but the season came down to the final 8 minutes after the Spires had charged to tie it at 52-all after three quarters.
Behind Ashton Bruner, Bailey Brown and Amanda Allen, the Bulldogs put on a finishing kick for the emotional victory.
“I thought we showed a lot of composure tonight,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “We kept chipping away after we got behind tonight. We took care of the basketball and in the second half we did a better job of rebounding.”
Bruner scored 21 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Brown supplied 16, and Allen and Sunny Smart added 10. Imani Dixon kept the Spires in the game with 24 points.
Mac (71) — Bruner 21, Brown 16, S. Smart 10, Allen 10, Battle 6, Kelly 5, Acklin 3.
Saint Mary (67) — Dixon 24, Switzer 12, McClary 6, White 9, Hinkle 3, Frantz 3, Roberts 6, McAdams 4.
• SAINT MARY MEN 87, MAC 76 — This game was a microcosm of the season.
Mac was right there with the Spires for a half, but a slow start to the second half allowed the Spires to build up a cushion and they lived off it the rest of the way.
The loss spoiled a terrific 32-point game by Chris Crook. Aaron Bachura scored 16 and Kyle Lakin, who received the Pat Noyes Scholarship Award, added 10. He also played great defense on Saint Mary star Grant Greenberg, holding him to 14 points. But Trent Richardson and Jordan Thomas came off the bench to score 22 and 21 points, respectively, to pick up the slack.
Reed Rowell had 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Lakin is the only senior departing. Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber admitted it was a tough year, but it was a good group to coach and that he believes the talent is there to turn things around next year if he can add some size to complement a good group of perimeter players.
Mac was 4-16 in the KCAC, 8-22 overall.
Mac (76) — Rowell 6, Bachura 16, Crook 32, Lakin 10, Henson 8, O’Hara 2, Wiltfong 2.
Saint Mary (87) — Mondaine 4, Marsh 10, Young 7, Greenberg 14, Meek 3, Richardson 22, Thomas 21, Sauer 3, Clark 3.