Lakin's defense sparks Mac to stunning upset

By Steve Sell
February 22, 2015

Kyle Lakin is listed at 5-8, but for McPherson College here Saturday he played like he was 10-foot tall.

Lakin's extraordinary defensive work on Saint Mary's probable first-team NAIA All-American Grant Greenberg was the impetus for a 77-74 Bulldog upset, giving them some momentum heading into the KCAC Postseason Tournament.

The Bulldogs finished 6-12 in the KCAC and take a 10-20 record to Hillsboro on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. matchup with conference champion Tabor.

Greenberg, who entered the game averaging a shade under 30 points, had a miserable night by going 6 of 19 and scoring 14 points.

"We think Kyle is a tremendous defender," a pleased McPherson College coach Tim Swartzendruber said after the Bulldogs beat the team that finished second in the KCAC. "His size is sometimes a hinderance to him, people try to post him up. The officials let them play today, there weren't a whole lot of fouls called. That probably worked to our advantage. Grant Greenberg averages almost 10 free throws attempts a game (he was 2 for 2). I thought Kyle did a great job on him."

The Bulldogs were up 26-20, at which point the Spires stormed back with a 14-3 run to close out the half with a 34-29 lead.

Mac came out firing in the second half with an 11-2 lick and a 3-pointer by DeAndre Henson eventually gave the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn't give up. They were up as many as 10 before there were some anxious moments at the end.

Darius Hill celebrated his Senior Night with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while fellow senior TJ Grant scored 12. The third senior, Derek Bevan, made 4 of 5 shots and scored eight points.

Huge off the bench was Louis Parker III, who scored 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting as he hung around the basket for several putbacks. The Bulldogs' bench was immense, coming up with 33 points.

Andre Clark led Saint Mary with 18 points off the bench, while Greenberg, Jordan Thomas and Xavier Young all scored 14. Thomas was just 3 of 21 as he just kept firing and firing to somehow find his touch, but it never happened.

Now everybody is 0-0 and anything can happen in the playoffs. It was just two years ago the Bulldogs were the No. 8 seed (like they are this year) and stunned everybody by winning three straight games to make the national tournament.

"Our guys have competed all year and have lost a lot of close games," Swartzendruber said. "But I'm proud of them, proud that we could win today on Senior Day especially and Pat Noyes Day."

Bevan was the recipient of this year's Noyes award, which is in honor of the former Bulldog who later served as an administrator for the Oklahoma State men's basketball team. He lost his life in the Oklahoma State plane crash in 2001 that took the lives of 10 people.

Mac (77) — Hill 17, Bevan 8, Grant 12, Lakin 7, Henson 8, Bachura 3, Berry 3, Parker 13, Martinez 6.

Saint Mary (74) — Mondaine 2, Hicks 2, Thomas 14, Greenberg 14, Young 14, Clark 18, Griffin 10.

• SAINT MARY WOMEN 77, MAC 75, OT — It appeared the Bulldogs were going to end a disappointing season on a high, up by seven points with just over 2 minutes to go.

But the Spires scored the final seven points of regulation to force extra basketball. After grabbing a six-point lead at one point, they saw the Bulldogs charge back behind Sunny Smart's shooting and Mac had a chance to tie the game, but Zatorian Abra's short runner was just off.

Mac thus finished ninth in the KCAC with a 3-15 record and was 4-26 overall.

"We're not used to playing with a lead," Mac coach Gordon Reimer said. "And that was totally different from what we've had in the past. The girls put a good game together. It was probably a lot more fun to watch than coach."

Smart led the Bulldogs with 21 points, including six treys. Georgia Smart scored 13 before fouling out and Bailey Brown added 12. Alicia Demaret just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, while blocking five shots.

Rachel Emde's 20 points led the Spires, with Imani Dixon scoring 17 and Kelsey Switzer added 11, along with six rebounds.

The Bulldogs return their entire team next year as they did not have a single senior.

"I feel really good about us going forward," said Reimer, who has yet to translate the tremendous success he enjoyed at rival KCAC school Kansas Wesleyan to Mac. "Often the team that returns the most people does really well the next year. They have really learned a lot and bought into the things I want to do… I felt like we made a lot of good progress."

Mac (73) — G. Smart 13, Abra 7, Brown 12, S. Smart 21, Jefferson 3, Acklin 6, Demaret 11.

Saint Mary (75) — Emde 20, Dixon 17, Palmer 7, Switzer 11, Marusak 9, Chambers 5, Frantz 3, Roberts 3.