Basketball coaches often talk about the first 5 minutes of the second half as being one of the keys to any game.
That’s where McPherson College’s men lost it on Saturday.
Down already 39-30 to Sterling at the half, the Bulldogs were left behind early in the second half, falling behind 57-38 in the first 5 minutes, before roaring back. They had a chance to get close late, but the Warriors’ remarkable foul shooting enabled them to secure an 88-78 victory.
The Warriors made 16 of 16 free throws in the final 3:26 to salt the game away. They had turned the tide early in the second half where they had a stretch where 7 of 8 baskets were 3-pointers.
“Give them credit. They made all their free throws down the stretch,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team is now 1-4 in the KCAC and 6-5 overall. “I’m just shocked at the way they shoot the ball. They haven’t not shot the ball that well, but obviously their last two games, Saint Mary and us, they have shot the ball well.”
Swartzendruber did like the fight of his team to whittle a 19-point deficit down to 6, with a chance to get it to 4 or 3 late in the game.
But the bottom line was, his team made just 27 of 74 shots, 8 of 28 from 3.
“I know we have good shooters, but we’re just not making shots right now,” Swartzendruber said.
Mac was led by Chris Crook with 27 points, while Aaron Bachura came off the bench for 14, and inside players Thomas Butler and Careino Gurley added 11 apiece.
Josiah Ray, who scored 14 of the Warriors’ first 16 points, shared game honors with Crook by scoring 27.
Mac has a monster week coming up with a road game Thursday at Tabor before hosting Friends on Tuesday.
Mac (78) — Gurley 11, Butler 11, Henson 7, Crook 27, Bachura 14, Windholz 2, Rowell 6.
Sterling (88) — F. Oyatayo 4, Ray 27, Mahurin 2, Riden 12, Dubbert 16, Jaderston 5, Noll 2, Speer 9, Hart 2, Ostrosky 9.
• STERLING WOMEN 61, MAC 45 — The Bulldogs’ offense has gone on hiatus.
For the second straight game, the Bulldogs scored only 45 points, but this time the result, unlike Thursday, was a loss.
Mac dropped to 3-2 in the KCAC and 7-3 overall.
It was a 22-all tie at halftime, but Mac was whistled for five fouls less than 2 minutes into the third quarter and the Warriors took advantage by opening up a 12-point lead with some blazing foul shooting.
The Bulldogs never got it under double digits the rest of the way.
“I thought the first half is really what we wanted to do,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team played good defense for the most part against the high-scoring Warriors. “We had to keep them off the free throw line and driving. They’re a good driving team and a poor 3-point shooting team.”
But not on this night. The Warriors were 4 of 8 from 3-point in the second half to open up some breathing room, while the Bulldogs were 2 of 16 from 3-point for the game.
“We’re just not shooting the ball well right now,” Reimer said.
Brooklyn Coe continued her outstanding play with a game-high 16 points for Mac and Cami Richardson scored 13, but no other Bulldog scored more than 6. Mac also coughed it up 21 times on turnovers.
Hailey Davis led Sterling with 15, one more than Jordin Greer.
The Bulldogs face the KCAC’s top two teams next week, with a game Thursday at Tabor and then host Friends on Saturday.
Mac (45) — Coe 16, Richardson 13, Holt 2, Zimmerman 2, Racette 2, Bacon 6, Van Doselaar 2, Kelly 2.
Sterling (61) — Harris 11, Ricke 8, Greer 14, Davis 15, Princ 8, Sokoloski 3, Stallbaumer 2.