Tim Swartzendruber’s halftime message to his McPherson College men’s basketball team, regardless of the score, is generally the same.
Win the first five minutes of the second half.
The Bulldogs failed miserably in their quest Thursday night, as an 18-4 Southwestern burst to start the second half keyed the Moundbuilders’ 82-73 victory to move them into a third-place tie with Saint Mary at 4-3.
The Bulldogs sagged to 2-5 in the KCAC and 6-13 overall despite a nice comeback that saw them slice 10 off points of the Builders’ high-water lead mark of 19, 55-36.
“We talk about that in the locker room, I don’t how many times I said that,” Swartzendruber said of the start of the second half, which began with Mac trailing only 37-32. “The first five minutes of the second half we need to be right in there.”
The Bulldogs did make a nice push and got it as close as 71-65. But an old-fashioned 3-point play by Southwestern’s William Tisdale pushed it back out to eight and the Bulldogs never threatened again.
This was easily the best Southwestern team that former Central Christian College head coach Matt O’Brien has brought into the Sport Center. The aggressive Builders flexed their muscles on the boards for a 39-28 rebounding advantage and also shot it well from 3-point, making 9 of 19.
KCAC Player of the Year candidate Cameron Clark muscled his way to 22 points, while Tisdale, Chris Waller and Landers Riddle all added 14.
Once again, Mac had good balance and turned it over only eight times. The Bulldogs were led by TJ Grant with 17 points, followed by Darius Hill (16), Latron Jolly (12), Chris Crook (11) and DeAndre Henson (11).
“I give our guys credit, we never gave up,” said Swartzendruber, who added that effort has never been the problem this year. “It’s just disappointing that we didn’t have that focus somehow coming out after halftime.”
Mac goes on the road Saturday to play Friends, which is tied for second place with Bethany.
Mac (73) — Hill 16, Grant 17, Crook 11, Henson 11, Bachura 2, Jolly 12, Martinez 4.
Southwestern (82) — Tisdale 14, Riddle 14, Waller 14, Clark 22, Nespor 4, Lipsey 8, Dobbins 2, Stafford 3, Monroe 1.