WINFIELD — For the first 10 minutes Wednesday night, there was a thought that the McPherson College women might duplicate what their men did last year.
The 8th-seeded Bulldogs led by as many as six points over No. 8-ranked and KCAC champion Southwestern in the first round of the Postseason Tournament.
But Southwestern outscored the Bulldogs by 22 the rest of the half to lead 41-25, then saw that lead sliced in half in the second half as Mac staged a furious run.
But the KCAC champions eventually pulled away for a 71-57 victory to advance to Saturday’s semifinals, where they’ll host Kansas Wesleyan, which upset Ottawa in Ottawa, 75-64.
The other games went according to form, as Tabor sped past Sterling 86-69, while Friends plodded by Bethel, 49-39. Tabor plays at Friends Saturday afternoon.
Mac did a lot of things right in defeat. Bailey Brown was terrific with 19 points and six rebounds from her guard spot, while Aubrey Barton had 16 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Bre Gillespie, in her final game as a Bulldog, just missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds, while handing out four assists.
Mac also made 12 of 14 free throws, knocked down seven 3-pointers and won the rebound battle, 39-33. But the killer stat was 21 turnovers, while Southwestern committed just eight.
The balanced Builders placed nine players in the scoring column, with Jordan Hobbs coming off the bench for 15, including four treys. Zefiryn Bryan added 12. Southwestern launched 33 3-pointers in the game, making nine, and also was nails at the foul line by making 16 of 21.
Mac ended its season 10-21 in coach Gordon Reimer’s first year after he took over the reigns after the season had started. The Bulldogs also were 6-12 in the KCAC after being the overwhelming pick to finish in last place.
Gillespie and Stephanie Ellis were the team’s only seniors and Reimer already has been hard on the recruiting trail as he’s expecting to bring in a big class.
Mac (57) — Barton 16, Engelbert 2, Brown 19, Gillespie 9, Short 5, Smart 3, Tejero 3.
Southwestern (71) — Bryan 12, Reichenberger 7, Shaffer 9, Je. Hobbs 6, Rickey 4, Tennyson 8, Rieger 3, Jo. Hobbs 15, Lovell 7.