When McPherson College’s men’s basketball team reached the halfway point of the KCAC schedule at 1-10 and in last place, the thought was to just forget about it and start the second half fresh at 0-0.
With a come-from-behind 81-64 victory over Kansas Wesleyan here Wednesday, the Bulldogs are undefeated in the second half and no longer occupy last place by themselves.
In fact with a second straight victory to start the second round of conference play, Mac has caught Kansas Wesleyan and now has one less victory than Oklahoma Wesleyan, Bethel and Sterling.
The Bulldogs are 3-10 in the KCAC and 9-12 overall.
It didn’t look good for a half as Wesleyan was sizzling from the field, making 59 percent to take a 45-37 lead.
But in a stunning turnaround, the Bulldogs locked in defensively in the second half and permitted just 19 points as KW made only 7 field goals.
“Obviously when you can play a second half like we did and come back and win, you feel good about it,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “Kansas Wesleyan just shot the lights out in the first half and honestly if you look at their stats, I just didn’t think they could do it two halves in a row and they didn’t and we were fortunate there. We just guarded better and we guarded smarter in the second half.”
It was DeAndre Henson who lit the fire offensively as he scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half. It was his 3-pointer that gave Mac its first lead of the second half and he hit another 3-pointer a few minutes later that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. He just missed a double-double with 9 rebounds.
“DeAndre is having a great year for us,” Swartzendruber said. “And it was really good to see him step it up for us in the second half.”
Careino Gurley and Reed Rowell did yeoman work inside. Gurley powered his way to 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while Rowell had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Aaron Bachura added 10 points and Grant Raleigh just missed doubles with 9.
Mac pounded KW on the boards with a 41-28 rebounding advantage after KW had led that stat 18-17 at the half.
Jamon Fulton came off the bench to lead KW with 17.
The Bulldogs go on the road Saturday to play Oklahoma Wesleyan. Game time is 5 p.m. in Bartlesville.
Mac (81) — Gurley 14, Rowell 10, Henson 28, Bachura 10, Raleigh 9, Crook 4, Windholz 2, O’Hara 4.
KW (64) — Lunz 4, Edwards 2, Hill 9, Gandy 15, Johnson 5, Fulton 17, Ellis 2, Gillard 4, Neri 6.
• KANSAS WESLEYAN WOMEN 71, MAC 62, OT — The Bulldogs, who had only nine players available, had a chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the KCAC this year, but simply ran out of gas in overtime after expending a lot of energy getting the game tied at the end of regulation.
Down 40-28 at the half, the Bulldogs held the Coyotes without a field goal the entire third quarter as all 9 KW points came at the line. Mac still trailed by 9, though, with 5 minutes left, but made a tremendous charge down the stretch.
The Bulldogs even caught and passed KW, up 58-55 with 1:09 left, but the Coyotes eventually tied the game on a Karlie Steinle free throw with 14 seconds left.
The Bulldogs then threw the ball away while going for the last shot. Once the game went overtime, it was all KW as it outscored Mac 13-4.
“I thought we did a really good job, but just ran out of gas in that overtime,” said Mac coach Gordon Reimer, whose team is now 6-7 in the KCAC and 11-10 overall.
Reimer was proud of his team’s defense as KW was 3 of 24 from the field in the second half and 5 of 29 when you add in the overtime. Free throws were a difference as KW was 22 of 32 compared to 16 of 23 for the Bulldogs.
Freshman Cami Richardson scored 22 points, had 5 rebounds and 4 steals for the Bulldogs as she continues to fill all statistical categories. Kristina Battle added 15 points.
Mac’s two post players, Brooke Zimmerman and Victoria Gonzalez, had a nice combined night with 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Gonzalez blocked 5 shots.
KW had four players in double figures, led by Sydney Mortensen’s 15 points that came on 5 3-pointers.
Mac goes to Oklahoma Wesleyan for a 3 p.m. game on Saturday in Bartlesville.
Mac (62) — Holt 4, Zimmerman 7, Battle 15, Racette 2, Richardson 22, Van Doselaar 5, Gonzalez 7.
KW (71) — G. Miller 10, M. Miller 13, Steinle 11, Mortensen 15, New 9, Bradford 2, Heller 3, Knox 8.