Gordon Reimer never knows from game to game who is going to step up and make the big plays when his McPherson College women’s basketball team needs them the most.
With the Bulldogs struggling mightily against Southwestern’s zone defense in the first half here Wednesday night, Reimer inserted reserves Julie Olvera and Nicole Abunaja into the game.
Olvera went in first and responded with back-to-back 3-pointers. Then Abunaja came in and did likewise as the Bulldogs overcame a 16-10 first-quarter deficit to pull within 25-24 by halftime.
Both also made a 3-pointer in the second half as the Bulldogs gradually pulled away for a 59-43 victory, improving their KCAC record to 3-1 and overall mark to 7-2. Mac also is 6-0 at home.
The Bulldogs turned the game with a 17-4 lockdown in the third quarter as Southwestern couldn’t get its star Jordyn Miller untracked. Normally a thorn in the side, the Bulldogs held the KCAC Player of the Year candidate to just 8 points.
“That was our goal going into this game, No. 1 don’t let her catch the ball and if she does catch it, we better double-team her immediately,” Reimer said. “That plan really worked out. The team executed it perfectly.”
Cami Richardson led Mac with 11 points, and also had 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists.
But it was the bench that was immense as Mac received 26 points from its reserves, including 9 apiece from Olvera and Abunaja.
“They came in when we were struggling offensively and couldn’t hit shots and they busted some 3s for us,” Reimer said.
Ten Bulldogs in all scored as their depth again paid off. The Bulldogs also were strong on the glass with a 45-31 advantage, with Brooke Zimmerman coming off the bench to grab a team-high 7.
Mac has a huge game coming up on Saturday when it travels to Sterling, which suffered its first conference loss on Wednesday and, like the Bulldogs, is 3-1 in the KCAC.
Mac (59) — Holt 8, Milum 2, White 8, Coe 4, Richardson 11, Olvera 9, VanDonselaar 2, Abunaja 9, Racette 3, Zimmerman 3.
Southwestern (43) — Miller 8, Laskey 12, Henderson 7, Rogers 3, Evans 2, Walck 11.
• SOUTHWESTERN MEN 92, MAC 70 — The Moundbuilders, ranked No. 8 in the country in the latest poll, now find themselves alone atop the KCAC at 4-0.
Mac started off hot, sprinting to a 9-2 lead. But all that did was refocus the Builders, who scored the game’s next 17 points and then finished the half on a 20-5 run to lead 43-25.
“Obviously we started out great, but then it seemed like when we went to the bench things kind of spiraled down,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team has dropped seven in a row for a 1-8 record and is 0-4 in the KCAC. “We just never quite recovered. They have a very good team.”
Louis Parker III came off the bench to score 17 points, all in the second half. That was matched by Aaron Bachura, while Grant Raleigh added 15.
Cameron Hunt, one of those rare players who falls through the cracks as he could be playing at a much higher level, led Southwestern with 27 points.
“Cameron Hunt is just phenomenal and when you make 13 of 26 3s that’s impressive,” Swartzendruber said.
The Bulldogs did hold the Builders under their season average as they came in averaging 100.6 points per game.
The Bulldogs head to Sterling on Saturday in a matchup of the only winless teams in the conference.
Mac (70) — Munsen 2, Watts 2, Owen 7, Bachura 17, Raleigh 15, Ellison 5, Parker III 17, Wolters 5.
Southwestern (92) — Smith 6, Fisher 6, Horsch 6, Hunt 27, Wallace 10, Mills 16, Hamm 16, White 3, Martinez 2.