The news wasn’t entirely bad for McPherson College’s men Saturday night.
Sure, they had their nine-game winning streak snapped when KCAC champion Sterling handed them a 71-67 road setback.
But when the smoke cleared, the Bulldogs earned the No. 2 seed in the KCAC Postseason Tournament, even though they wound up tying for second place with Bethany and Tabor.
Mac, 11-7 in the KCAC and 17-12 overall, will host Southwestern at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sport Center. The Bulldogs swept the season series, winning 65-47 at the Sport Center and 78-65 in Winfield.
What makes being the No. 2 seed most important is that if Sterling goes on to win the KCAC Postseason Tournament title as well, then Mac qualifies for nationals for the second year in a row. This was the same scenario as last year, as Mac lost in the playoffs, but KCAC champion Friends went on to win the tournament.
Sterling appeared intent on running the Bulldogs out of the gym early, as its first five baskets were 3-pointers, resulting in a 15-3 lead. But the Bulldogs held their poise, managing to melt the deficit to 38-35 by halftime.
While the Bulldogs never had that one huge run in the second half as has been their wont in recent games, coach Tim Swartzendruber wasn’t disappointed in the effort.
“Sterling played a great game. They came out on fire and played with a lot of enthusiasm,” Swartzendruber said. “I was proud of how we fought back and made it a game. We had several chances down the stretch to get within one possession but just didn’t hit that big basket.”
Samson Shivers led the Bulldogs with 15 points, while Jordan Crawford was a beast on the boards with an amazing 22 rebounds, to go along with his 13 points. Aaron Jackson supplied 12 points off the bench.
Zach Goodrich, who could be the KCAC Player of the Year, led Sterling with 19 points, one of four Warriors in double figures. Sterling wound up 10 of 24 from 3-point to just 5 of 25 for Mac, which was the difference in the game.
If Mac wins its opener against Southwestern, it would again be home at 2 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Bethany and Saint Mary. The Bulldogs have split with both of those teams this year.
Mac (67) -- Jackson 12, Frazier 8, Miller 2, Severs 2, Shivers 15, J. Crawford 13, Bruner 6, C. Crawford 7, Hewitt 2.
Sterling (71) -- Goodrich 19, Stutzman 11, Poole 9, Brazelton 13, Odomes 13, Brown 1, Alexander 2, McGrath 3.