But the fact of the matter was on Saturday that highly touted transfer Lual Magot made his McPherson College men’s basketball debut and the result was the first Bulldog KCAC victory of the season.
Magot, who had missed the first 17 games recovering from foot surgery, played only 17 minutes, but contributed 11 points, 8 rebounds and boundless energy as the Bulldogs outscored Bethel College 105-99 in a wildly entertaining shootout at the Sport Center.
“He was one of our top recruits,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose other top recruit Dorian Paige has been out all year with knee surgery and is redshirting. “He’s only practiced about 2 weeks, but you can see what a difference he makes just with his athleticism and with his energy he plays with. First game he ever plays as a Bulldog he has 11 points and 8 rebounds. That’s not bad for making your debut.”
Like so many games recently, the Bulldogs had a double-digit lead in the second half, but this time made enough plays at the end to hold on.
“We’ve had a lot of close games and after the game the other night (a 65-55 loss to Kansas Wesleyan after leading by 17), there was a lot of frustration,” Swartzendruber said. “The last couple of practices we just said we’ve got to be tougher. Tonight I thought we showed some toughness. With 10 minutes left we got the lead and didn’t let it go.”
Magot, a springy 6-5 forward, was one of six Mac players in double figures. Aaron Bachura scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half as a Louis Parker III follow shot at the buzzer gave Mac a 53-52 lead to take into the locker room.
Also in doubles were Garrett Owen (14), Grant Raleigh (13), Parker III (13), and Fred Watts (12, along with 10 rebounds for a double-double).
The game was tight all the way, but Mac finally used a 13-4 run midway though the second half to lead by as many as 10, before fending off each and every Thresher rally.
The Bulldogs blistered the Threshers on the boards, outrebounding them 39-23.
Bethel was led by Chase Banister, who had an amazing night by going 9 of 9 from the field and 4 of 5 at the line for 24 points, while Joe Rushing added 20.
Mac is now 1-9 in the KCAC and 4-14 overall. It wraps up the first time through the KCAC with a road game Wednesday at Saint Mary.
Mac (105) — Munsen 8, Watts 12, Owen 14, Bachura 25, Raleigh 13, Oxford 6, Magot 11, Ellison 3, Parker III 13.
Bethel (99) — Rushing 20, Banister 24, Marshall 18, Harris 5, Morgan 8, Foster 14, Bryant 8, Sleep 2.
• BETHEL WOMEN 54, MAC 51 — The Bulldogs probably knew they wouldn’t go undefeated at home all year, as they entered the night 8-0 at the Sport Center.
But they certainly didn’t expect their streak to end at the hands of Bethel, which until a win on Wednesday had not scored a KCAC victory.
The Bulldogs’ season is starting to unravel as they now have lost four in a row to stand at 9-8, 5-5 in the KCAC. Their one-time lock to make the conference playoffs is now becoming tenuous as they have no bargain on Wednesday by going to Saint Mary.
Cold shooting was the culprit as the Bulldogs were just 16 of 47 from the field, a frigid 2 of 18 from 3-point.
Cami Richardson was the only Bulldog in double figures with 13 points. Abby Schmidt led Bethel with 14.
Mac led 35-31 at the half, but managed just 7 points in the third quarter and 9 in the fourth, making just 4 of 22 shots and missed all 10 3-point attempts.
Mac (51) — Holt 4, Roberts 6, VanDonselaar 2, Coe 7, Richardson 13, Battle 6, Olvera 5, Racette 3, Zimmerman 5.
Bethel (54) — Schmieder 6, Schmidt 14, Schroeder 11, Johnson 6, Ebenkamp 2, McKinney 4, Brown 5, Potter 6.