Gordon Reimer could barely watch the start that his McPherson College women got off to here Thursday night in their KCAC basketball opener.
The Bulldogs lollygagged their way to just seven points in the first 12 minutes and found themselves in a 12-point hole to Bethel, which is one of the most experienced teams in the KCAC.
But with a flip of the switch, the Bulldogs flipped the script.
Mac closed the first half on a 26-9 pop to lead 33-28, then slammed the Threshers with a 14-5 sizz to start the second half to key an improbable 70-46 rout as the Bulldogs are in a five-way tie for first place in the conference.
Not bad for a team that was an overwhelming choice to finish last in the preseason polls.
“I think we started out the game with some nerves,” said Reimer, whose team is now 5-6 on the year. “We weren’t really executing the offense, but once we settled down and ran our offense, we were able to get the ball inside and were able to convert.”
Aubrey Barton (pictured) scored 19 points to lead Mac, as she time and again knifed inside with some nifty moves. Sunny Smart again was instant offense off the bench with 15 points and hustled from her guard spot for healthy 13 rebounds.
Bailey Brown was her usual steady self with 13 points, while Cami Engelbert was the offensive instigator in the second half by scoring all 11 of her points after the break after she barely played in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
Mac had a 46-36 advantage off the glass.
“I think that has been a key to the games we’ve won this year,” Reimer said. “When we win the rebound battle, we have a good chance to win.”
April Harpe tallied 16 to lead the Threshers while All-KCAC candidate Lauren Ulrich scored 13, but was just 5 of 22 from the field as the Bulldogs kept a close eye on her whereabouts at all times. Bethel as a team was just 17 of 63 as the cold-shooting virus infiltrated the entire team.
Mac will try to make it two straight Saturday afternoon at Saint Mary in Leavenworth. The Spires were picked just ahead of the Bulldogs in the preseason poll. They apparently are much better than anticipated as they played No. 14-ranked Southwestern within eight in their KCAC opener Thursday, 76-68.
Mac (70) — Barton 19, Engelbert 11, Gillespie 6, Brown 13, Jefferson 2, Short 2, Smart 15, Atkins 2.
Bethel (46)— Durant 2, Ebenkamp 1, Ulrich 13, Harpe 16, Wilkerson 6, Carter 3, Regier 2, Zerger 2, Tschetter 1.