Nationally ranked basketball teams seem to bring out the best in the McPherson College women.
Just two days after taking No. 11 Tabor down to the wire on the road only to lose by 2 points, the Bulldogs led No. 24-ranked Friends 59-58 with 7 minutes to go Saturday at the Sport Center.
But the Falcons, the KCAC leader, outscored Mac 19-6 the rest of the way for a deceiving 77-65 victory. They are now 7-0 in KCAC play.
A rash of Bulldog turnovers allowed Friends to retake the momentum.
“We played the best two teams in the conference pretty much toe-to-toe this week and we’re doing it mainly with freshmen and sophomores against juniors and seniors,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team is now 3-4 in the KCAC and 7-5 overall after its third straight loss. “I told the girls we’ve just got to stay the course and trust the process. We’re getting better every game.”
The Bulldogs, down 42-30 at the half, had a tremendous third quarter for the second straight game. A turning point came when Mac’s Brooklyn Coe appeared to be fouled by Friends superstar Shann Sellers, which would have been her third of the game and most likely sent her to the bench, but Coe was whistled. Reimer walked on to the court and drew a technical as he was protecting his player.
Mac seemed to play with renewed passion as it outscored Friends 19-8 the rest of the quarter, which ended up tied at 52.
The Bulldogs took a 59-58 lead on a free throw by Cami Richardson, but Yowana Posey took over for Friends as her defense sparked the Falcons the rest of the way as she finished with 6 steals.
Sellers, a probable first-team All-American, was as good as advertised. She scored 22 points, dealt out 6 assists, came up with 5 steals and 5 rebounds. Makenzie Vining scored 16, and Posey and Lexi Evans tallied 15.
Maressah Milum had an excellent game for Mac with 14 points off the bench. Richardson stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Kristina Battle and reserve Isabella Bacon scored 13 apiece as the Mac offense seems to have found itself after back-to-back 45-point games last week.
The Bulldogs head to Leavenworth on Tuesday to take on Saint Mary, a team they are tied with in the KCAC.
Mac (65) — Holt 4, Zimmerman 4, Battle 13, Coe 2, Richardson 12, Bacon 13, Milum 14, Racette 3.
Friends (77) — Sellers 22, Evans 15, Vining 16, Posey 15, Lozen 4, Quiroz 3, Seaton 2.
• FRIENDS MEN 92, MAC 82 — Of all the losses for the Bulldogs this season, this one hurt the most.
The Bulldogs played an amazing first 12 minutes as they sprinted to a 35-17 lead, only to see Friends outscore them 26-8 over the final 8 minutes to tie the game at the half, 43-43.
Friends went up as many as 8 in the second half, but the Bulldogs charged back and finally led 70-69 with 8:25 remaining.
The game was still tied at 74-all with 6 minutes to go, but it was all Friends from there as the Falcons went on an 18-8 tear for the 10-point win, sending Mac into last place in the KCAC at 1-6 and they are 6-7 overall after a fifth straight loss.
Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber simply had no answers after the game, as once again his team played with great effort, but wilted down the stretch, which has been a common theme in conference play. Mac has led in the second half of every game, but can’t get the defensive stops when it needs them the most.
Chris Crook was blazing early as he scored 17 points in the first 11 minutes and went on to finish with 29. Thomas Butler could not be stopped down low with 16 points.
But the 1-2 punch of Jordan Murdock (31) and Kyler Steadman (30) was too much. Steadman time and again blew by the Mac defense and also canned some clutch 3-pointers. They combined for 36 points in the second half.
Toby Baxter scored 19 points as 80 of Friends’ points came from three players.
Mac plays at St. Mary on Tuesday.
Mac (82) — Gurley 2, Butler 16, Henson 8, Crook 29, Raleigh 6, Bachura 5, Windholz 2, O’Hara 8, Rowell 6.
Friends (92) — Osborn 3, Steadman 30, Murdock 31, Baxter 19, Chrene 5, Ndaw 4,