The McPherson College women's basketball team inched closer to clinching a berth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Tournament with a 60-48 victory over rival Kansas Wesleyan University Saturday evening at the Sport Center.

Kansas Wesleyan (14-14, 11-9 KCAC) held a couple of one-point leads early in the first quarter as Courtney Heinen and Sydney Mortensen connected from behind the arc in the first four minutes. Those would be the Coyotes' only two field goals, however. McPherson (14-13, 10-10 KCAC) responded with nine points in a row - including five from Sonerka White to take a 14-6 lead at the 2:59 mark. The Bulldogs, who shot 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from the field in the first quarter, finished the frame on a 17-3 run to lead 22-9 at the quarter break. Kansas Wesleyan shot just 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from the field.

Mackenzie Herman scored five straight points to open the second quarter, cutting the McPherson lead to eight points. The Bulldogs led by that margin at the midway mark of the quarter before Brooke Racette  drained a 3-pointer at the 4:18 mark to restore the double-digit advantage. McPherson led 33-21 at the break.

Heinen and Cami Richardson  each drained a pair of shots early in the second half, leaving the Bulldogs with a 37-26 lead with 7:32 left in the quarter. McPherson put the clamps on KWU defensively after that, forcing six turnovers and holding the Coyotes to 1-of-10 shooting the rest of the way. The Bulldogs scored eight of the final 10 points of the quarter - including five more from White - to take a 45-28 lead into the final quarter.

Back-to-back McPherson hoops to open the fourth quarter pushed the Bulldog led to 21 points, but KWU steadily chipped away at the advantage. McPherson was called for the first six fouls in the period, most on drives to the hoop by Gabbie Miller. Miller made six free throws over a span of 2:30 to help spur a 18-7 run by the Coyotes that cut the deficit to just 10 with 4:22 to play. Heinen also drained a pair of 3-pointers and hit a free throw during the stretch for KWU. Kansas Wesleyan would get no closer, however, as McPherson drew charges on consecutive possessions to stem the tide.

McPherson finished the game shooting 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from the field compared to just 25.0 percent (14-of-56) for Kansas Wesleyan. Nine of the Coyotes' 14 made field goals came from behind the arc. 

The Bulldogs were also 15-of-23 at the line, while KWU was 11-of-16. The Coyotes won the battle on the boards by a 39-33 margin but struggled with turnovers, committing 24 to McPherson's 16.

White scored 16 points to lead McPherson. She also had six rebounds, four steals and a pair of assists. Richardson added 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Racette had 10 points and six boards. Brooklyn Coe  just missed double digits on Senior Day, finishing with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting and two blocked shots. Julie Olvera  added six points off the bench, while Brooke Zimmerman and Brittany Roberts  had three apiece.

Heinen scored a game-high 17 points to lead Kansas Wesleyan, while Mortensen added 12 off the bench. Miller was held without a field goal, but went 8-of-8 at the line. She also had eight boards, four steals and three assists. Taryn Frazier had a game-high nine rebounds to go with three steals, two assists and a block.

McPherson has closed the gap on the schools ahead of them in the league standings, drawing to within one game of Tabor, Sterling and Kansas Wesleyan, who sit in a three-way tie for fifth at 11-9. The Bulldogs must still keep an eye out for Ottawa (8-12) lurking in ninth place, two games back heading into the final week of the season. The Braves are on a three-game winning streak that started with a 69-67 win over McPherson on Feb. 3.

The Bulldogs close out the home schedule Wednesday night by welcoming the University of Saint Mary (15-11, 12-8 KCAC) into the Sport Center. McPherson picked up a 77-69 victory in Leavenworth on Jan. 10 to snap a four-game losing streak. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Bulldogs wrap the regular season next Saturday at Bethel. The KCAC Tournament begins February 21.