LEAVENWORTH — The McPherson College women beat Saint Mary at their own game Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs, who spent the entire game defending the Spires’ onslaught of 3-point attempts, ran off a string of six 3-pointers over five minutes during the second half to break open a close game and wound up pulling away to a 59-44 success.
The Bulldogs, the overwhelming choice to finish dead last in the KCAC preseason polls, are now 2-0 after the first week of conference play, tied with 14th-ranked Southwestern College. In winning for the fifth time in the last six games, Mac has pulled even for the season at 6-6.
"To get a win on the road is huge," McPherson first-year coach Gordon Reimer said. "Coming up here has always been a difficult place to play. Anytime you can get a win here that's pretty good."
The Bulldogs led by as many as seven in the first half, but went ice cold over the final eight minutes to find themselves tied at 23-all at the break.
Mac started strong in the second half and Saint Mary continued to fire away from 3-point to no avail. It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to sprint to a 15-point lead and they finished the game strong from the foul line, making their last eight attempts.
"We didn't think they could match up with us inside, so we wanted to pound it in and pound it in," Reimer said. "We did some good things inside."
Balance was a key as Aubrey Barton and Cami Engelbert scored 12 points apiece, while Bailey Brown and reserve Chandler Short furnished 10 apiece. Mac ripped away at 52 percent from the field in the second half to up its final number to 20 of 46 for 43 percent.
Bre Gillespie scored only three points, but was a presence with 10 rebounds, all on the defensive end.
Saint Mary, led Mariah Marusak with 11 points, was a desultory 17 of 63 from the field, including 6 of 33 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs entered the night sixth in the country in defensive field goal percentage and certainly did nothing to hurt their stats.
"I don't know if we're hitting teams on bad shooting nights or our defense is that good," Reimer chuckled. "They had quite a few 3s. They didn't have the height inside to go with their outside shooting. I'm happy they didn't make very many. You live and die by the 3 sometimes."
The Bulldogs have a huge week coming up as they play two of the KCAC's heavyweights, Sterling on Thursday and Friends on Saturday. Both games, however, will be at the friendly Sport Center confines.
Mac (59) — Barton 12, Engelbert 12, Gillespie 3, Brown 10, Short 10, Smart 9, Atkins 3.
Saint Mary (44) — Palmer 8, Marusak 11, Brown 5, Ezeh 3, Stallbaumer 10, VanNess 5, Gordon 2.