The closeness in the KCAC standings between McPherson College’s men and Southwestern played out on the Sport Center court here Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs entered play a game back of the Moundbuilders and from the opening tip there was little doubt the outcome wouldn’t be decided until the end.
Both teams had brief flurries, but the Bulldogs took the lead for good with 4:17 to go and held on for dear life to emerge with an 80-75 victory.
Both teams finished the first go-around of KCAC play with 3-6 records, but the Bulldogs are considered the seventh-place team in the conference at this point by virtue of this victory.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games and I’m just proud of the guys that we fought through and won one,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team is 10-11 overall but has lost some difficult games in conference play. “When Southwestern came back (from eight points down) and took that (65-64) lead, that’s happened to us numerous times this year. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to pull it out. We made free throws down the stretch. We were good at the free throw line. Southwestern was outstanding at the free throw line.”
Mac’s Samson Shivers was 15 of 15 from the stripe and scored 23 points as he bounced back strong from his scoreless night on Saturday at Bethany. Brian Johnson added 22 points and had an outstanding floor game with five assists. Joey Powers made 7 of 9 shots and scored 14 points, while Devirous Johnson, despite dislocating his finger and having it popped back in, was his reliable self with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Brutish Cameron Clark, maybe the KCAC’s strongest player pound-for-pound, scored 20 to lead the Builders, but was just 9 of 26 from the field as Brian Johnson made him work for everything he got. William Tisdale chipped in with 18 points and Bryan Lipsey scored 11.
Mac got off to a slow start, down 18-11, but a 22-7 run propelled it to a 33-25 lead before it closed 35-29 at the half.
The Bulldogs were up 62-54 with 9:19 to go, but the Moundbuilders ripped off a quick 9-0 sizz to take a 65-64 lead with 6:37 left. Mac finally regained the lead for good on a Powers tip-in.
Mac hopes to make it two straight Saturday when it plays at winless Bethel, which gave up 112 points on Wednesday to Bethany, including a school-record 46 by Idris IbinIdris.
Mac (80) — Shivers 23, B. Johnson 22, Powers 14, D. Johnson 10, Grant 5, Berry 2, Clay 2, DeRoo 2.
Southwestern (75) — Clark 20, Tisdale 18, Tyler 7, Shirley 2, Lipsey 11, Hudson 9, Giddings 8.