STERLING — Since the second half of the KCAC basketball schedule began, the McPherson College men have been as good as any team in the conference.
After a depressing 1-10 first half in conference play, the Bulldogs didn’t throw in the towel. With Saturday’s impressive 80-61 road win over Sterling, Mac is now 4-1 during the second tour through.
The Bulldogs are 5-11 and sniffing at a Top 8 spot, which would get them in the playoffs. They also have climbed within two games of .500 overall at 11-13
It was just a 36-33 game at the half, but a monster 27-7 run in the second half allowed the Bulldogs to silence the always-vocal Sterling crowd.
Thomas Butler was nails for the Bulldogs by powering his way to 22 points as he was 10 of 12 from the field as he used his strength inside to be unstoppable. DeAndre Henson and Aaron Bachura added 15, while Chris Crook supplied 11. Mac treasured the basketball with a microscopic 6 turnovers.
Mac had another lockdown game on the defensive end, which has been the key to the turnaround. Sterling scored 88 points in the first meeting at the Sport Center.
“It was a great team effort tonight," Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. "I thought our fullcourt pressure created some turnovers and we finished better in the second half. We are playing our best basketball of the season and we want that to continue."
The Bulldogs now will have their mettle tested next week as conference leader Tabor comes to the Sport Center on Thursday, then it’s a trip to red-hot Friends on Saturday.
Mac (80) — Henson 15, Bachura 15, Gurley 6, Raleigh 4, Butler 22, Crook 11, Munsen 4, Owen 3.
Sterling (61) — Jaderston 12, Oyatayo 12, Ray 10, Wiliams 6, Dubbert 6, Riden 8, Ostrosky 5, Manhunn 2.
• STERLING WOMEN 86, MAC 69 — When the Bulldogs get in a shootout, they more often than not lose.
Mac relies greatly on its defense and it didn’t have it on Saturday as Sterling led this one virtually from the get-go. The Warriors shot an amazing 32 of 52 from the floor, 8 of 12 from 3-point and 14 of 17 at the line, with Jessica Princ leading the way by scoring 28 points. Kilee Harris had 16 off the bench.
The Bulldogs are 7-9 in the KCAC and now battling for a playoff spot as five of their last six games are against teams ahead of them in the standings. Mac is .500 overall at 12-12.
The loss spoiled yet another remarkable game by freshman sensation Cami Richardson as the former Hesston All-Stater poured in 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. Kristina Batttle added 12 and Danielle Holt scored 10. Mac was only 8 of 24 from 3-point and 5 of 11 at the line.
Mac has a brutal week coming up with Tabor at home on Wednesday and at Friends on Saturday as it plays the KCAC’s top two teams.
Mac (69) — Richardson 23, Battle 12, Holt 10, Coe 9, Kuhn 9, Racette 4, Van Doselaar 2.
Sterling (86) — Princ 28, Greer 11, Sokoloski 8, Davis 6, Ricke 2, Harris 16, Swiftwater 11, Stallbaumer 4.