HILLSBORO — Given the recent offensive woes of McPherson College’s women’s basketball team, the fear going into its game with 11th-ranked Tabor College on Thursday was that it could get pretty ugly.
The Bulldogs were coming off back-to-back games where they had scored 45 points. And Tabor’s success is predicated on shutting down its opponents.
The Bulldogs not only played well offensively, but they put a huge scare into the Bluejays before losing 66-64 as they led with just under 6 minutes to go before the Bluejays went on a 9-3 run to take control.
“We showed tonight what I think this team is a capable of,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team is now 3-3 in the KCAC and 7-4 overall. “We did a great job of rebounding and that was one of our goals.”
Mac had a whopping 44-25 rebound advantage as it displayed an aggressiveness that it had been missing in recent games.
Tabor led 29-22 at the half, but the Bulldogs unleashed a 24-point third-quarter salvo to trail only 48-46. A Brooklyn Coe basket gave the Bulldogs a 55-54 lead midway through the final period, but Tabor tightened up its defense as the Bulldogs went nearly 4 minutes down the stretch without a basket.
Mac freshman Isabella Bacon broke out of a 3-point slump by making four on her way to a team-high 18 points off the bench. Another freshman, Cami Richardson, had a double-double with 13 points and 10-rebounds. Maressah Milum also came off the bench to provide a spark with 9 points and 6 rebounds.
Two subs, Kyli Webber and Amber Bonham, led the Bluejays with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The key for Tabor was that it made 7 of 12 3-pointers in the second half after making just a single trey in the first half.
The Bulldogs are home Saturday to take on KCAC leader Friends, which is a game up on Tabor in the standings.
Mac (64) — Holt 2, Battle 7, Coe 7, Racette 2, Richardson 13, Harlow 2, Bacon 18, Milum 9, Zimmerman 4.
Tabor (66) — Reid 8, Deniston 9, Ediger 2, Troxell 3, Decker 9, Bonham 10, Schmelzer 3, Webber 12, Leiszler 6, Loewen 4.
• TABOR MEN 82, MAC 75 — Like the women, the Bulldog men put up one of their best efforts of the year, but after leading with 10 minutes to go they saw Tabor charge back.
Mac was up 57-56 when Tabor went on a 15-6 run. The Bulldogs got as close as two, 73-71, but the Bluejays finished the game strong.
The game actually was lost in the final 5 minutes of the first half. The Bulldogs had stretched their lead to 33-26, but Tabor finished on a 12-1 lick for a 38-34 halftime lead, with Kyle Baker making a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We had a great effort in the second half to take the lead,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team is now 1-5 in the KCAC and 6-6 overall. “We had a couple of possessions there back-to-back in the second half where we missed point-blank layups. What do you do? You’ve got to make it. It’s just disappointing because we had such great effort. Tabor was just a little bit better.”
Chris Crook drained six 3-pointers and scored 22 points to lead the Bulldogs. Aaron Bachura came off the bench for 14 points, which included four treys. Mac was 13 of 32 from beyond the arc, but only got to the foul line for 14 attempts and Tabor shot 30 free throws.
Lance Carter led five Tabor players in double figures with 16 points.
The Bulldogs are home Saturday to take on Friends.
Mac (75) — Butler 5, Rowell 6, Henson 7, Crook 22, Raleigh 9, Bachura 14, Windholz 3, Munsen 4, O’Hara 4, Gurley 1.
Tabor (82) — Jones 12, Parry 11, Carter 16, Winton 12, Urrutia 15, Baker 9, Clerveus 1, Gibson 6.