SALINA — The heartbreak of all those close KCAC football losses for the McPherson College Bulldogs apparently has carried over to the men’s basketball team.
And it again was the most unguarded shot in basketball that did them in.
The Bulldogs missed some golden opportunities at the foul line late Saturday night and a Terell Gandy 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the game proved to be the winner for Kansas Wesleyan as the Coyotes dealt Mac its second difficult-to-swallow loss in three days, 83-81.
The Bulldogs have opened KCAC play 0-2, the losses by a combined 5 points.
“I really felt like we had better effort tonight overall and that the guys played hard,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team did a lot of good things that normally would have resulted in a victory. “When I look at the stat sheet, it’s free throws — it’s just unbelievable to me that we missed (so many) free throws.”
After making just 11 of 20 on Thursday, the Bulldogs were 12 of 21 against the Coyotes, missing three in the final 3 minutes. Mac was a nationally ranked foul-shooting team last year, but has struggled so far.
The other stat that led to the Coyotes’ victory was rebounding, as they dominated the glass for a 40-29 advantage.
On the plus side, the Bulldogs lit it up from 3-point — 13 of 27 — and played a tremendously clean floor game with just 5 turnovers while forcing 17.
It was a wildly entertaining game as Mac led 47-44 at half, then fell behind by as many as five at 66-61.
From there, the Bulldogs went on a 15-3 rip to take a 76-69 lead and had a chance to go up 9 or 10, but that possession resulted in one of the rare turnovers.
The Coyotes stormed back for a brief lead, but Mac went up 81-80 on a pair of Chris Crook free throws with 1:29 remaining. Careino Gurley then came up with a steal for the Bulldogs, but a pair of missed free throws at the end of that possession allowed KW to set up for the winner.
The Bulldogs had ample opportunities to tie. They called time with 3.6 seconds left and had two chances from point-blank range, but both attempts rimmed out.
Crook led the Bulldogs with 16 points, DeAndre Henson tallied 14, Ryan O’Hara came off the bench for 12 and Gurley added 10.
Maybe the difference in the game was 6-7 Jacob Lunz, who was operating with a decided height advantage in the paint since 6-8 Mac center Reed Rowell was out with an injury. He didn’t score in the first half as he was on the bench with foul trouble, but threw down 19 in the second half to lead the Coyotes. Gandy scored 14 and Ryan Hill added 12.
The Coyotes were 30 of 53 from the field and 15 of 19 at the line as they are a completely different team under first-year coach Anthony Monson.
Mac is now 4-2 overall and returns home Tuesday to play red-hot Oklahoma Wesleyan, which has started KCAC play 2-0 with wins over two of the KCAC favorites in Friends and Saint Mary.
Mac (81) — Gurley 10, Butler 7, Henson 14, Bachura 6, Raleigh 7, Crook 16, Windholz 3, Munsen 6, O’Hara 12.
KW (83) — Lunz 19, Edwards 7, Hill 12, Gandy 14, Johnson 8, Fulton 2, Gaines 2, Ellis 4, Slyvester 7, Neri 8.
• KANSAS WESLEYAN WOMEN 64, MAC 33 — Records aren’t kept, but the first half may have set a record for the Bulldogs.
And not in a good way.
Mac made just one — one — basket in the entire first half, going 1 of 19 to sap the emotion right out of it as KW stunningly led 34-6 at intermission.
The Bulldogs did not score during a 23-0 first quarter and Emma Van Donselaar’s basket with 9:11 left in the half was the only one.
Mac coach Gordon Reimer didn’t even realize his team was scoreless in the first quarter as it was a nightmare to watch as he tried every combination to no avail.
“I knew we were 1 of 19 in the first half,” he said. “It was just a poor effort on our part. Our offensive execution was not there.”
Mac did score 16 points in the third quarter and was outscored only 30-27 after the break. KW kept much of its top-line players in most of the game as star guard Jenna Farris played 34 minutes despite the lopsided score.
“If you would have told me we’d hold them to 64 points, I would have thought it would have been a close game,” Reimer said.
Van Doselaar led Mac with 9 points.
KW actually didn’t shoot it that well, going 20 of 55 from the field and 6 of 25 from 3-point, but really got down and played tough defense.
Mac, now 1-1 in the KCAC and 5-2 overall as its four-game winning streak was snapped, hosts high-scoring Oklahoma Wesleyan on Tuesday.
Mac (33) — Holt 2, Zimmerman 3, Battle 3, Coe 7, Van Doselaar 9, Milum 2, Allen 7.
KW (64) — Steinle 13, Mortensen 10, Farris 9, New 12, Knox 4, Frazier 2, Lewis 2, G. Miller 6, Liggett 2, M. Miller 4.