LINDSBORG — McPherson College’s men played one of their best halves of the year Saturday night to open up an eight-point lead over highly touted Bethany College.
But then, poof!, like magic it was gone. And the Magic Man for the Swedes was the outrageously talented Idris IbnIdris.
The silky 6-5 guard scored 17 of his 28 points in the second half as the Swedes exploded for 55 after-intermission points to key an 89-68 victory to move them into a tie for first place in the KCAC with Friends, though the Falcons currently hold the tiebreaker.
For whatever reason, Idris has forgone playing at a higher level of competition where he certainly has the talent to belong. He made the game look almost too easy as he did about whatever he wanted in the second half as the Swedes outscored the Bulldogs by 29, which energized their rabid crowd.
“I’m not sure how he ended up at Bethany when he was in a Division I school (Cal-Riverside) in California,” an admiring Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “He is phenomenal. He made that one 3 (pointer) at the end of the shot clock there in the first half and it was about a 25- or 28-footer and we were right in his face. It was just an amazing shot. Once he got going there in the second half, he’s almost unstoppable.”
The Bulldogs were sensational in the first half. They pounded the ball inside at the outset to pile up a 12-2 lead, which had Swede coach Clair Oleen bellowing incessantly at his team. Erik DeRoo later came in to make four straight 3-pointers and the smell of upset was brewing in the air like freshly made coffee.
But a 19-4 run to start the second half sent the Swedes on their way and they literally ran the Bulldogs out of the gym with their athleticism. Bethany clearly has the best collection of pure athletes in the KCAC and can do damage in so many ways.
Kirby Hawkins scored 14 points for the Swedes, Dwight Abad chipped in with 13, Vincent Roybal tallied 12 and Nathan Coleman added 10.
Devirous Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Mac, while Joey Powers added 14 and DeRoo scored 12. After making 17 of 34 first-half shots, the Bulldogs sagged to 8 of 19 in the second half and turned it over nine times.
Samson Shivers, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, did not make a mark in the book, going 0 of 7 in 23 minutes of play.
Mac is now 2-6 and alone in eighth place in the KCAC, where it finished last year before staging its miracle run through the conference tournament to make nationals for a fourth straight year.
Mac, 9-11 overall, is home for a rare Wednesday game against Southwestern to wrap up the first time through the conference. The game has been moved to accommodate high school tournament week.
Bethany improved to 7-1 in the KCAC and 14-5 overall. It should have a laugher Wednesday when it host hapless Bethel.
Mac (68) — Grant 8, D. Johnson 19, Berry 2, DeRoo 12, Powers 14, Woods 4, B. Johnson 9.
Bethany (89) — McLin 2, Idris 28, Abad 13, Hawkins 14, Bieberle 3, Coleman 10, Hays 2, Loul 3, Roybal 12, Knopp 2.
BETHANY WOMEN 63, MAC 61 — McPherson College’s women didn’t want to be “the one.”
But unfortunately they are.
The Bulldogs did not want to be Bethany’s first conference victim, as the Swedes entered Saturday on a 16-game slide and had not won in all seven KCAC games.
But they played inspired basketball and rode nine 3-pointers to deal the Bulldogs their seventh straight loss since the Christmas break.
Bethany’s Ashley Carey blocked a potential game-tying layup attempt by Mac’s Bailey Brown at the buzzer to preserve the win.
Mac let a seven-point second-half lead get away, as the Swedes unleashed a 15-0 run midway through. The Bulldogs charged back, but could never regain the lead.
Carey scored 13 points for the Swedes and Kendra Austin added 11. Brown led all scorers with 17 to lead the Bulldogs, Aubrey Barton added 15 and Chandler Short totaled 10. Mac was just 15 of 49 from the field, but stayed in the game by cashing in 25 of 31 at the line, including 9 of 10 by Barton and 8 of 9 by Short.
Mac is 3-5 in the KCAC and hosts first-place Southwestern on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are 7-13 overall.
Bethany has a good chance at two in a row as it hosts Bethel on Wednesday.
Mac (61) — Short 10, Gillespie 6, Barton 15, Brown 17, Smart 6, Atkins 2, Engelbert 5.
Bethany (63) — Rees 8, Shetlar 3, Brammer 9, Austin 11, Dolan 9, Kerlikowske 1, Carey 13, Ohlschwager 7, Sullivan 2.