WINFIELD — Saturday could not have worked out any better for the McPherson College men’s basketball team.
By rallying for an 82-79 victory over Southwestern to sweep the season series, the Bulldogs moved up one spot in the final seedings for the KCAC Postseason Tournament that begins on Thursday.
“This was a gritty win and the seniors were outstanding,” Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber said. “We made some huge shots down the stretch and hit our last four free throws. I couldn’t be more proud of a team.”
Instead of going to Wichita to play conference champion Friends, the No. 7-seed Bulldogs now to go No. 2 Sterling for a 7 p.m. date with the Warriors, a team they lost to twice, but one was in overtime and the other was where the Bulldogs played well, but wound up losing in the final five minutes.
With the win, Mac finished the regular season at 15-15 with three wins in their last four games, perhaps signaling that they’re not done yet in a bid for their unprecedented fifth straight trip to the NAIA National Tournament.
The Bulldogs finished 8-10 in the KCAC and were 5-4 the second time through the schedule. Six of their 10 conference losses were by six points or less.
Southwestern led 33-31 at the half and the Bulldogs went down as many as seven in the second half, only to rally. Erik DeRoo and Samson Shivers hit some key 3-pointers, while DeRoo and the suddenly emerging D’onte Woods combined to make four straight free throws down the stretch.
DeRoo, who was 4 of 4 from 3-point, finished with 16 points, while Woods scored 14, T.J. Grant added 13 and Shivers scored 13 as well.
Mac had no answer for the powerful William Tisdale, who scored 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Cameron Clark added 17, as the Moundbuilders, by losing, now must play Thursday at Friends.
Mac played a terrific floor game with only seven turnovers.
Mac (82) — DeRoo 16, Woods 14, Grant 13, Shivers 13, D. Johnson 9, Henson 6, Bevan 6, B. Johnson 5.
Southwestern (79) — Tisdale 26, Clark 17, Tyler 6, Shirley 2, Schmidt 1, Hudson 13, Nespor 6, Giddings 5, Lipsey 3.
• SOUTHWESTERN WOMEN 69, MAC 54 — For a team picked overwhelmingly for last place in the KCAC, first-year coach Gordon Reimer coaxed more out of the Bulldogs than anyone expected.
Mac finished 6-12 in the KCAC and tied for sixth place with Bethel and Sterling, but lost out to both on the tiebreaker, which means they must return here on Wednesday to play the Moundbuilders, who ran the conference table by going 18-0.
Mac, now 10-20 overall, was right there nearly the entire first half before a late Southwestern surge pushed it out to 37-29. The Moundbuilders gradually extended the lead in the second half.
Cami Engelbert and Aubrey Barton paced Mac with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Bulldogs were just 19 of 58 from the floor.
The amazingly deep Moundbuilders, whose second team could probably finish in the upper half of the KCAC, had 10 players score, led by Montana Rickey’s 13 points. Kaitlin Tennyson added 10 more.
Mac women (54) — Engelbert 11, Barton 10, Brown 7, Gillespie 4, Jefferson 2, Smart 9, Atkins 6, White 4, Short 1.
Southwestern (69) — Tennyson 10, Shaffer 7, Bryan 6, Rickey 13, Rieger 8, Jes. Hobbs 7, Jo. Hobbs 5, Zoglmann 7, Reichenberger 4, Lowell 2.