All things considered, McPherson College’s men have to feel like they stole one Saturday night at the Sport Center.
After a desultory first-half effort where it appeared the Bulldogs barely had a pulse, they flipped the emotional switch over the final 20 minutes to storm back for a 77-73 victory over two-win Kansas Wesleyan that perhaps kept the season from spiraling downward.
The Bulldogs never led until Kenny Berry sank a running floater that banked in with 24 seconds left to make it 74-73. After a Michael Johnson miss for KW, the Bulldogs’ Devirous Johnson was fouled and he made one of two for a 75-73 lead with 11.7 seconds remaining.
The Coyotes went for the win and Brock Borovetz’s 3-pointer just missed. Mac’s Samson Shivers put the cap on a 31-point game with a pair of free throws for the final margin.
It was a stunning dagger through the heart for the Coyotes, who can’t seem to buy a break. But for much of the game, they were the better team.
“At halftime I was upset,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team was missing standout Brian Johnson because of a deep thigh bruise. “But I think I was more disappointed. I mean, we knew what Kansas Wesleyan was going to do and truthfully, I don’t think we were ready to play. I don’t think we even respected them. I knew how good they could be, but I think our players looked at that score from the Friends game (90-58). They saw how bad Friends beat them and they didn’t think they would be very good. I don’t feel sorry for them because I’m glad we won, but they have lost a lot of close games. They have been right there with people.”
The Bulldogs snapped a four-game KCAC losing streak and are now 2-4, while climbing back to .500 overall at 9-9.
Shivers kept the Bulldogs afloat. He scored 14 points in the first half to keep it from being a total embarrassment as the Coyotes were up 45-32 after being up as much as 17. He wore out the foul line in the second half, making 14 of 15 for the game, part of the Bulldogs’ 21-of-24 effort. Johnson scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds after scoring just two points and grabbing four rebounds in the first half.
Borovetz scored 18 for the Coyotes, while Johnson furnished 16 and Dane Brinker supplied 15. Wesleyan perhaps helped the Bulldogs some in the second half by rushing their shots and not running some clock.
KW rained 10 3-pointers, while the Bulldogs were just 6 of 22, though three of them were by Erik DeRoo, who gave the Bulldogs a spark off the bench with nine points. T.J. Grant also breathed some fire into the team with nine bench points.
Mac has a tough one Thursday when it plays in the Ottawa concrete jungle, easily the loudest gym in the conference.
Mac (77) — Powers 3, D. Johnson 15, Shivers 31, Berry 6, DeRoo 9, Grant 9, Woods 4.
KW (73) — Long 7, Brinker 15, M. Johnson 16, Borovetz 18, Hidalgo 7, D. Johnson 7, Pasold 3.