The forecast for McPherson College’s first women’s basketball victory Wednesday night was looking cloudy at best.
But with a flick of the wrist, everything suddenly became sunny.
Sunny Smart’s rare 4-point play provided the impetus the Bulldogs needed against crosstown rival Central Christian College at Alexander Arena, as they rallied from a 12-point deficit for what turned into a runaway 24-point victory, 76-52.
Smart drained a 3-pointer and was fouled with 11:04 left in the game. She made the free throw, which cut the Lady Tigers’ lead from 46-37 to 46-41.
Central totally fell apart from there. In fact, Mac finished the game on a staggering 39-6 sizz to record its first win after four losses.
“We’ve really been struggling to hit some shots at key times to get the team excited,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. “Once we started to hit some key shots, it opened things up. That was a big shot Sunny made.”
Smart finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, which augmented a tremendous 27-point, 12-rebound effort by fearless 5-4 guard Bailey Brown, who time and again drove into the middle to either score or be fouled. She made 14 of 16 free throws.
“I just can’t tell you how to describe Bailey’s performance tonight and all this season,” Reimer said. “She is a tough matchup for anybody.”
Freshman center Alicia Demerat continues to improve for Mac as after a 0-point, 4-rebound first half, she charged back to finish with 8 points and 11 rebounds.
Central, which fell to 1-5, had been playing the Grinnell College style of basketball in which it was launching a shot about every 15 seconds. But with the Lady Tigers depleted by injuries, coach Chris Honeck had to scale back his plan of attack. Instead of the nearly 90 to 100 shots that had been casted in recent games, CCC was just 18 of 70.
The Lady Tigers took a 34-27 lead into the break and started the second half on a 5-0 run, but once Smart scored the 4-pointer, the team couldn’t buy a basket.
“We were getting good shots after that, but they just weren’t falling,” Honeck said. “When we started to not hit shots, we weren’t doing things at the other end of the court that we needed to do.”
Honeck said Central is down eight players, with seven of them due back at some point. He admits the players missing would help in the rebounding department, where Mac held a whopping 62-42 advantage.
Reserves Ashlyn Garza and Ciara Alderson led the Lady Tigers with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Lady Tigers host Grace University at 5 p.m. Friday. The Mac women are in Des Moines, Iowa, and play AIB College of Business at 7 p.m. Friday and Dakota State University at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Mac (76) — Atkins 5, Demerat 8, Brown 27, S. Smart 19, Jefferson 2, Castaneda 3, Abra 5, G. Smart 3, Acklin 4.
Central (52) — Smit 4, Shaw 5, Regier 2, Void 4, Laskowski 4, Woods 4, Alderson 10, Garza 13, LeBrane 6.