It was as thrilling a nightcap to the opening day of the McPherson College Women’s Basketball Classic as one could ask for.
It was as thrilling a nightcap to the opening day of the McPherson College Women’s Basketball Classic as one could ask for. For two halves, the McPherson College women and AIB College of Business (Iowa) battled back and forth, with neither team ever having a clear-cut advantage. Even into overtime, the outcome was in doubt, even as the Lady Bulldogs controlled the scoreboard almost the entire five minute extra period. McPherson, though, escaped with a 76-74 win over the Eagles to improve to 3-5 on the season. “I knew this team would never go away,” Mac coach Gordon Reimer said of AIB. “They are juniors and seniors. They’re experienced; they’ve been there before. They’re calm and confident. I told the girls, ‘You’ve got to keep playing, because this isn’t going to be where we get a big run and they get a big run.’ The girls did a good job of maintaining their composure.” The Bulldogs found themselves trailing at halftime 37-36, despite leading most of the way through the period. Mac opened up with a quick six points, but AIB (4-4) kept chipping away at the Bulldog lead, finally taking the lead with just under a minute left in the half. The Eagles extended that lead out to 51-44 by about halfway through the second half, but sophomore guard Sunny Smart almost single-handily orchestrated a 10-2 swing, including a huge three-point bucket to put McPherson back on top of AIB 57-56 with under five minutes left in the game. Smart finished with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting from the field, 3-for-6 from three-point range. She was also 3-for-4 from the foul line and had seven rebounds for the Bulldogs. “Sunny had a great line on the night,” Reimer said. “She did a really good job for us.” AIB, however, lived up to Reimer’s prediction and continued to bring the fight to the Bulldogs, as they fought to a 67-67 tie at the end of regulation. Mac’s Aubrey Barton hit a lay-up and a corresponding free throw off an AIB foul within the first 30 seconds of the overtime period to give McPherson a brief lead. AIB would tie it up again at 71-71, however, with a pair of Tanya Kaufman free throws. Chandler Short would finally break the deadlock with 30 seconds remaining in overtime with a drive into the lane, and McPherson would hold on to win the thriller. Short also had 16 points on the night behind 4-for-8 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 from the line. Bailey Brown continued her strong play with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double, while Barton had 13 points. McPherson shot 36.2 percent from the field on the night, including 9-for-23 from three-point range. They were 25-for-38 from the foul line. “We had quite a few lay-ups that we missed tonight right at the basket,” Reimer said. “Those go in and it’s maybe a 10 point difference in the game.” AIB wasn’t any better from the floor, shooting 28-for-83, 7-for-30 from distance and 11-of-19 from the charity stripe. The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 56-48. No rest for the Bulldogs, as they will face Northern New Mexico College today as the McPherson Women’s Basketball Classic Continues. Tipoff from the McPherson College Sport Center is at 4 p.m. The Eagles fell to Bethel 61-43 in the first game of the day on Friday. The Threshers face AIB today at 2 p.m.