WINFIELD — McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber contends he wants his team to be playing its best basketball at the end of the season.
Maybe the Bulldogs are following his message.
In what was probably their best KCAC game of the season, the Bulldogs went on the road Saturday to upset Southwestern 91-81 at venerable Stewart Field House, always one of the toughest venues to win at.
The Bulldogs can thank the dynamic 1-2 combo of Darius Hill and TJ Grant for the win. Hill scored 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Grant had 23 points and five assists, while committing just two turnovers in 33 minutes. For the game, Mac turned it over only five times.
The Bulldogs stunningly led by as many as 20 in the first half before settling for a 45-29 lead. The lead swelled to 23 in the second half before the Moundbuilders staged a furious rally to get as close as eight.
“We shot well in the first half and were great defensively," Swartzendruber said. "We got a little rattled towards the end of the game, but I'm proud of our finish. A good win indeed."
DeAndre Henson came off the bench to add 12 points. Mac was 10 of 18 from 3-point, led by Henson and Grant both going 3 of 4.
Landers Riddle scored 22 for the Builders, one more than Cameron Clark. William Tisdale scored 13 and Lennell Monroe tallied 10.
Mac is now all but locked into the No. 8 spot for the KCAC playoffs. It is 5-11 heading into the final week and 9-19 overall. The Bulldogs have a two-game lead on both Kansas Wesleyan and Bethel and need only a win in their final two games or a loss by either Wesleyan or Bethel to make the playoffs. The Bulldogs once advanced to the national tournament after finishing eighth in the regular season, only to win the postseason tournament.
The Bulldogs finish the final week of the regular season at home, playing Friends on Thursday and closing Saturday against Saint Mary.
Mac (91) — Hill 27, Grant 23, Crook 7, Lakin 6, Bevan 2, Henson 12, Martinez 8, Berry 6.
Southwestern (81) — Riddle 22, Clark 21, Tisdale 13, Lipsey 7, Nespor 5, Monore 10, Dobbins 3.
• SOUTHWESTERN WOMEN 76, MAC 68 — While the Mac men are basically assured of making the playoffs, the Mac women are basically assured of not making it.
But the way they played Saturday, they looked like a team much better than their 3-13 KCAC record and 4-24 mark overall.
Mac led second-place Southwestern 37-33 at the half, but again standouts Sunny Smart and Bailey Brown just didn’t have enough help.
Smart scored 18 and Brown 17, but once again no other Mac player scored more than six.
The Builders were led by Tiffany Rieger with 17 and Jana Reichenberger with 14. Southwestern is a game back to Tabor for the KCAC lead with a week left to play.
Mac is two games back of Saint Mary for the eighth and final spot. The two teams do meet on Saturday at the Sport Center after the Bulldogs host Friends on Thursday.
Mac (68) — S. Smart 18, Brown 17, Abra 6, G. Smart 6, Jefferson 5, Acklin 8, James 6, Demaret 2.
Southwestern (76) — Rieger 17, Reichenberger 14, Jo. Hobbs 9, Cranmer 3, Rickey 1, Miller 11, Bleumer 10, Tayulor 7, Demel 2, Lovell 2.