Everything was looking beautiful for the McPherson College women early on in their basketball game with Friends University here Saturday.
The KCAC co-leading Bulldogs had sprinted to an 18-7 lead. To make matters worse for the Falcons, leading scorer Sarah Munds went out with an ankle injury just three minutes into the contest.
But then the Bulldogs’ bubble burst.
Friends outscored Mac 21-5 to close out the first half, then began the second half on a 24-5 scoring binge to blow the game open. The Falcons used that monstrous 45-10 total run to hand Mac its first conference loss, 76-53.
Still, the Bulldogs are 3-1 in the KCAC and tied for second place, not bad for a team that some thought might go winless in the conference as it was picked dead last by the coaches and media in the preseason polls.
“I told the girls in the locker room before we go off for Christmas break that you should be proud of where you’re at right now,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “We’re in a good position and we need to be ready to play when we get back. It’s a long season and we have more things to accomplish.”
Bailey Brown’s 10 early points led Mac to its 11-point lead, but the Falcons then turned up the defensive heat. The Bulldogs threw it away 15 times in the first half, 26 errors in all, against the KCAC’s No 1-ranked defensive team.
“I felt like we got off to a really good start, which we needed to do,” said Reimer, whose team is now 7-7 after a 1-5 start. “We did some things defensively to throw them off at the start of the game. They were really struggling with that, but then they cranked up their fullcourt pressure. Obviously they found our weakness. They scored 32 points off our turnovers and I thought that was the difference by far in the basketball game. They’re just more athletic than we’re used to.”
The Bulldogs basically got all their offense from three players — Aubrey Barton (21 points, 10 rebounds), Brown (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Cami Engelbert (nine points, six rebounds, six assists).
Kayla Mollere and Kayla Justice scored 22 points apiece for the Falcons, who played the final 37 minutes without Munds. Justice was 5 of 10 from 3-point.
Mac returns to action Jan. 3-4 with the two-day McPherson Classic.
Mac (53) — Barton 21, Brown 14, Engelbert 9, Gillespie 5, Short 4.
Friends (76) — Sanders 2, Ptacek 7, Mollere 22, Justice 22, Sellers 10, Atherton 2, Batelds 2, Steffenson 1, Williams 2, Killman 2, Wilson 4.
• KCAC STANDINGS •
1. Southwestern, 4-0
2. McPherson College, 3-1
2. Friends, 3-1
2. Tabor, 3-1
2. Ottawa, 3-1
6. Kansas Wesleyan, 2-2
7. Bethel, 1-3
7. Sterling, 1-3
9. Saint Mary, 0-4
9. Bethany, 0-4