McPherson College’s women are an early leader in the clubhouse for KCAC surprise basketball team of the year.
The Bulldogs made it three victories in a row to start the season on Saturday in the McPherson College Classic when they outlasted Haskell 67-60, a school that has been in and out of the NAIA Top 25 in recent years.
The Bulldogs were explosive offensively in the first half by putting up matching 20-point quarters for a 40-32 lead. Haskell cut into the advantage in the third period to make it 51-49 going into the fourth quarter, but some big plays by Brooklyn Coe down the stretch enabled the Bulldogs to hang on.
“We looked at this weekend where we could make a statement where we are in the program,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “We had to compete against people who have been in the Top 25 or receiving votes in the Top 25. Our defense really picked it up when we needed it to. Julie (Olvera) came off the bench and had a huge game for us. She just provided spark and kind of carried the team in terms of intensity. Every night out it seems like somebody new comes out and provides that for us.”
Coe and Kristina Battle led Mac with 11 point and Cami Richardson had 10, along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Top scorer Sonerka White battled foul trouble and was held to 7.
Talented post player Keli Warrior led Haskell with 19 as she used her 6-1 height to have her way inside.
Mac will try to make it a 4-0 start on Wednesday when it entertains crosstown rival Central Christian College, which is 0-1 and lost 91-42 to Bethel in its season opener.
Bethel edged Bellevue 75-71 in the other game Saturday, the same margin the Bulldogs won by against the Bruins.
Mac (67) — Coe 11, Battle 11, Richardson 10, Holt 7, White 7, Milum 7, Olvera 5, Kuhn 4, Abunaja 3, Gillen 2.
Haskell (60) — Warrior 19, Guillory 12, Coriz 5, Bates 4, Gunville 9, Penn 5, Shaving 2, Dale 4.
• HASTINGS COLLEGE MEN 79, MAC 70 — Hastings College is now 4-0 and it’s 4-0 against the KCAC, all of the games being close.
The Bulldogs, who incredibly have four starters out with injuries, led 34-32 at the half, but perhaps the lack of depth in what was their third game in four days took its toll.
“I thought we looked a little tired,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose 1-2 team isn’t very deep right now because of the injuries. “I thought the last 10 minutes we rushed shots and we didn’t do the things we needed to do to be successful. We didn’t share the ball and get a good look each time.”
The Bulldogs also gave away a ton of size inside as the Broncos were tall and strong, while Mac had only player taller than 6-3.
“It’s not a good matchup for us in our current situation,” Swartzendruber said, as three of the injuries are to his post players.
Hastings used a 17-2 run to take a 49-38 lead, but Mac charged back with a 13-2 blitz of its own to tie the game at 51-all. Down 58-56, the Bulldogs then gave up another run, this time a 17-6 rip to see the game get away.
Mac had a three-pronged attack as Careino Gurley scored 18, Aaron Bachura added 15 and Grant Raleigh chipped in with 14. Drew Callaghan had a double-double for Hastings with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jake Hansen buried some clutch treys and also finished with 16.
Mac hosts Central Christian College at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Sport Center.
Mac (70) — Gurley 18, Bachura 15, Raleigh 14, Watts 6, Owen 5, Oxford 7, Parker 5.
Hastings (79) — Hiscock 9, Callaghan 16, Miller 15, Musiel 14, Hansen 16, Hedlund 1, Kitten 8.