The visitor’s side on the Sport Center scoreboard here Saturday seemingly was frozen, even though the seconds continued to tick away and the home side score was working just fine.
For what had to seem like an eternity to the Bethany College Swedes, the number “6” had taken permanent residence, thanks to some suffocating McPherson College Bulldog defense.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when Chris Dean scored for the Swedes at the 12:41 mark to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 10-6.
But then it was as if an invisible lid had been placed over the Bethany basket. By the time the Swedes were able to get the scoreboard moving again, they were down 28-6 and 7:36 had elapsed.
Mac continued to tighten the vise and the result was an unexpectedly lopsided 77-51 rout in the semifinals of the KCAC Postseason Tournament. Coupled with Sterling’s 74-60 win over Tabor, the Bulldogs were able to start making reservations for the NAIA National Tournament for the second year in a row. The win advanced Mac to Monday’s championship game (see related story).
“Our mantra going into this game was to be focused,” said Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, whose team won for the 11th time in 12 games to improve to 19-12. “Having played Bethany twice, we knew what to expect from their personnel and their sets. We made a few adjustments that I thought helped us. I just felt like the last few days we’d had great practices and our kids were focused today.”
The Swedes, after being down 28-6, held the Bulldogs without a point over the final 5:37 to at least give themselves a hope of coming back, down 28-15.
“I said the first five minutes of the second half were going to be the key to this game,” Swartzendruber said. “Two weeks ago we played Bethany here and had a big lead (17) at halftime. The guys... that’s the first thing they said in the locker room, we’re not letting up... we attacked better in the second half and continued to get some transition baskets.”
Mac opened the second half with a 16-7 push and for all intents and purposes it was over. The Swedes had to abandon their zone and when the Bulldogs went to their patented spread, they were able to dissect the Bethany defense for 61-percent shooting in the second half.
The Bulldogs had terrific balance, led by Jordan Crawford’s 17 points, 14 of those in a 49-point Mac second half. Aaron Frazier added 14, Samson Shivers tallied 11 and Trent Severs added 10. Mac finished the game 30 of 55 from the field, with 16 assists on those baskets.
Bethany, the KCAC’s highest-scoring team at 75 points a game, shot only 31 percent and was led by Haydon Parks and Trey Beachum with 11 apiece.
The Bulldogs held the normally hot-shooting triumvirate of Beachum, Clayton Goggins and Quenton Jennings to 7 of 31. The Swedes also threw it away 22 times and got worn down by the Bulldogs’ reservoir of depth.
“What I told the guys, even if you have two good teams, when one team plays very, very well and one team plays very, very poor, that’s what happens in the game of basketball,” said Bethany coach Clair Oleen, whose senior-less team finished 14-16. “We were truly disappointed with the way we played. But my hat’s off to Mac. McPherson played very, very well.”
Mac (77) -- Jackson 2 1-2 5; Frazier 6 1-2 14; Severs 4 1-2 10; Shivers 4 1-2 11; Powers 1 0-0 2; Reinhardt 1 0-0 2; J. Crawford 6 4-7 17; Bruner 2 1-3 5; C. Crawford 2 3-4 7; Hewitt 1 0-0 2; Lundy 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 30 12-22 77. 3-pointers -- Shivers 2, Frazier 1, Severs 1, J. Crawford 1.
Bethany (51) -- Goggins 1 3-4 5; Roybal 1 0-0 2; Parks 4 1-1 11; Sadowy 2 2-5 8; Jennings 2 0-0 5; Beachum 4 3-4 11; Dodson 0 1-2 1; Giacomozzi 0 2-2 2; Dean 2 2-4 6. Totals -- 16 14-22 51. 3-pointers -- Sadowy 2, Parks 2, Jennings 1.