YORK, Neb. — The McPherson College women's basketball evened its overall mark at 13-13 and stepped closer to clinching a spot in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Tournament with a 71-60 victory over York College Wednesday night at the Freeman Center.
The Panthers (4-21, 1-18 KCAC) jumped out to an early 7-6 lead, but the Bulldogs (13-13, 9-10 KCAC) finished the opening quarter on a 15-3 run to take a 27-10 lead into the second quarter. McPherson made five 3-pointers over the final 5:24 while holding York to just three free throws and an 0-of-6 shooting performance from the field.
Sonerka White (Houston, Texas, Eisenhower HS) made it a 20-point game with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second quarter, but the Bulldogs struggled the rest of the quarter, missing eight of their final shots from the field over the final 9:37 of the half. The Bulldogs only other points in the quarter came on a Brooke Racette (Hutchinson, Kan., Trinity Catholic HS) basket with 6:24 to play. The Panthers took advantage of McPherson's shooting woes, outscoring the Bulldogs, 15-5, in the frame to make it a 32-25 game at the break.
York got the first points of the second half on a Kelsey Sharkey layup to cut the advantage to just five points, but McPherson rallied for eight of the next 10 behind five points from White to push the lead back to double-digits with 7:17 left to play in the frame. The Bulldogs eventually built the lead to 13 on a Danielle Holt (Glenpool, Okla., Glenpool HS) layup with 2:05 remaining but York closed the quarter on a 9-2 run behind a pair of Nakia Hackel 3-pointers and another by Ciara Williams to leave McPherson with a 51-45 lead headed to the final quarter.
The Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to push their advantage to 15 points with 6:45 to play. A pair of Sofia McGee free throws stopped the McPherson run. York slowly chipped away at the lead down the stretch, getting it back to single-digits on a pair of Kelsey Sharkey free throws with 57 seconds remaining, but McPherson was able to break the Panthers' press for a couple of layups in the final seconds to put the game out of reach.
McPherson shot 45.8 percent (27-of-59) from the field overall and held a commanding 45-33 advantage on the boards but committed 26 turnovers - just one off a season-high. The Bulldogs also drained seven 3-pointers, including six in the first half.
White finished with a game-high 22 points on 6-of-19 shooting. She also had six rebounds, four assists and was 8-of-9 at the charity stripe. Brooklyn Coe (Corvallis, Ore., Chemeketa CC) added 14 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Holt had 10 points off the bench. Cami Richardson (Hesston, Kan., Hesston HS) tallied seven points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and had McPherson's two blocks in the contest. Racette chipped in with seven points and six boards.
Starkey led York with 18 points and seven rebounds, while McGee added 11 points off the bench. No other Panther had more than six points.
With the victory, McPherson remains alone in eight place in the KCAC standings, two games clear of Ottawa University (7-12) and two games back of the trio of Tabor College, Sterling College and Kansas Wesleyan University (all 11-8). The Bulldogs return home for their next two contests, starting off Saturday evening with a 5 p.m. matchup against Kansas Wesleyan (14-13, 11-8 KCAC).