McPherson College men’s basketball coach Tim Swartzendruber has maintained all season that his team can play with anybody in the KCAC even if it doesn’t show in its record.
Case in point Thursday night.
The hot-shooting Bulldogs lit it up from start to finish at the Sport Center to stun third-place Saint Mary 89-85, despite a 41-outburst by the Spires’ Grant Greenberg in his final McPherson appearance.
The Bulldogs led 49-41 at half and upped the lead to 20, 78-58, before Greenberg led a furious rally that pulled the Spires within two. But a couple of drawn charges by Garrett Owen and Careino Gurley saved the Bulldogs, who are now 6-13 in the KCAC and 12-15 overall as they still have a faint chance of making the playoffs. They are 5-3 in KCAC games since the second half started.
“Saint Mary is a very good team, third place in the conference. They beat us fairly handily up there (in Leavenworth),” Swartzendruber said. “I thought the big key is that we got out to a great start. We scored tonight. We made shots. Early on we got a lot of post touches. We held on, it got a little crazy there. We got in a little bit of a panic mode, but thank goodness we held on.”
Aaron Bachura led the ‘Dogs with 21 points and DeAndre Henson added 15. Also in doubles were Owen (11), Grant Raleigh (10) and Thomas Butler (10). The four post players (Butler, Gurley Reed Rowell and Ryan O’Hara) combined to make 14 of 18 shots and overall Mac was a blistering 33 of 58, as well as 13 of 14 from the foul line.
Saint Mary shot it well, too, making 31 of 56 percent for 55 percent and went 10 of 19 from beyond the arc. At the line, the Spires were 13 of 16.
Greenberg was the only Spire in double figures and Swartzendruber said it was a pleasure to coach for four years against the greatest scorer in Kansas collegiate history as earlier this season he surpassed KU’s Danny Manning and has more than 3,000 points in his career.
The Bulldogs are home again Saturday to take on York College. Note the special 5 p.m. starting time for the men’s game and the women play at 3:00.
Mac (89) — Gurley 8, Rowell 8, Bachura 21, Raleigh 10, Henson 15, Owen 11, O’Hara 6, Butler 10.
Saint Mary (85) — Banks 4, Sauer 8, Marsh 5, Plein 3, Greenberg 41, Young 6, Titus 8, Denson 4, Meek 6.
SAINT MARY WOMEN 66, MAC 60, OT — It was another tough loss for the Bulldogs, who are now a game out of the last playoff spot.
Mac is now 7-12 in the KCAC, a game back of eighth-place Oklahoma Wesleyan. Overall the Bulldogs are 12-15.
This one hurt because it would have been an upset of the third-place team in the KCAC. The Bulldogs were up 35-25 at the half, but a cold third quarter let Saint Mary back in the game.
After both teams had shots at the end of regulation to win it, Saint Mary scored nine of the first 11 points in the OT.
Danielle Holt and reserve RJ Kuhn led Mac with 12 points apiece and Holt had her second straight double-double with 11 rebounds. Brooklyn Coe scored 11, as did Emma Van Doselaar. Imani White poured in 21 for Saint Mary.
The Bulldogs hopefully get a reprieve in the schedule on Saturday when last-place York comes to town for a 3 p.m. game.
Mac (60) — Holt 12, Coe 11, Battle 7, Richardson 4, Racette 3, Kuhn 12, Van Doeselaar 11.
Saint Mary (66) — White 21, De Los Reyes 18, Switzer 13, Hinkle 9, Hacker 2, Harbert 2, Holt 1.