LEAVENWORTH — The McPherson College women's basketball team closed out the first half of its 2017-2018 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) slate on a high note, toppling the University of Saint Mary, 77-69, Wednesday night at Ryan Sports Center.
The Bulldogs (10-8, 6-5 KCAC) shot nearly 60 percent from the field overall and held a commanding 50-28 edge on the boards.
The Spires (8-9, 5-6 KCAC) jumped out to an early 12-6 lead behind six points from Candy De Los Reyes and five from Morgan Bromell, but McPherson rallied to score 10 straight points to take a 16-12 lead. USM made four straight free throws to tie it at 16-16, but the Bulldogs finished the quarter on a 9-1 run to lead 25-17 after a quarter.
Brooklyn Coe scored to open the second quarter, pushing the McPherson lead to double-digits. The Spires chipped away at the Bulldog advantage throughout the quarter, eventually drawing even at 40-40 on a 3-pointer by Bromell at the 1:36 mark. A Brittany Roberts basket was answered by a pair of Ashley Hinkle free throws, but McPherson scored the final four points of the half as Elle Gillen drained a free throw and Danielle Holt converted an old-fashioned 3-point play after putting back a Brooke Zimmerman miss.
A 3-pointer by Kristina Battle gave McPherson a nine-point lead midway through the third quarter but Saint Mary responded, whittling the deficit to just two early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs responded with another 3-pointer - this one from Brooke Racette - and the visitors used a 7-2 run over the final 4:16 to keep the hosts at bay.
McPherson shot over 70 percent in the first half, hitting 20 of 26 shots from the field, before settling in at 57.4 percent (31-of-54) overall. The Bulldogs also made seven 3-pointers, but struggled from the line where they were just 8-of-21.
Cami Richardson led the Bulldogs with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. She also had four assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals. Roberts added 16 points, seven rebounds an three blocks, while Racette posted 11 points with three 3-pointers off the bench.
Holt led all players with 10 rebounds, while Zimmerman added six.
De Los Reyes scored a game-high 19 on 7-of-13 shooting for Saint Mary. Hinkle added 14 and Bromell 12 for the Spires, who shot just 36.4 percent (24-of-66) overall but stayed in the game by forcing 20 Bulldog turnovers.
"The key to the game was rebounding," said head coach Gordon Reimer. "We just dominated the rebounds by giving them one shot. Our energy was there tonight. This is a tough place to get a win and I'm proud of what our team accomplished.
"We were a little short-handed tonight," added Reimer. "But the bench came through with Kristina Battle, Brooke Zimmerman and Elle Gillen all stepping in and playing big minutes."
McPherson hits the road again Saturday to face Oklahoma Wesleyan University as the second half of the KCAC schedule kicks off. Tipoff from Bartlesville is slated for 3 p.m.