STERLING — Cami Richardson scored a team-high 23 points, but the McPherson College women's basketball team could not overcome a hot-shooting Sterling College team as the Bulldogs fell to the Warriors, 86-69, in a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup Saturday evening at the Gleason Center.

Sterling (14-9, 8-7 KCAC) jumped out to a 22-16 lead after one quarter behind 8-of-11 shooting from the field. McPherson (12-12, 7-9 KCAC) stayed close despite shooting just 7-of-21 from the field by collecting eight offensive rebounds.

The Warriors struck first in the second quarter as Kennedy Sokoloski drained a 3-pointer with two minutes gone in the frame. The basket sent the hosts on a 12-4 run that pushed the Sterling advantage to 14 points at 34-20 with 4:11 to play in the half.

After Richardson and Jessica Princ traded baskets inside to push the score to 36-22, RJ Kuhn nailed 3-pointers on back-to-back trips down the court to make it an eight-point game with less than two minutes to play. The Warriors grabbed the final four points of the half on baskets inside by Kilee Harris and Raegan Swiftwater to take a 40-28 lead into the break.

McPherson went on a 8-4 run to open the second half to cut the deficit to eight points, but Sterling responded with a 12-3 run to push the lead back to 18 as the clock reached the 3:30 mark of the quarter. Each team scored six points the rest of the way to give the Warriors a 63-45 lead with one quarter to play.

Sterling opened the fourth quarter on a 7-3 run to send the lead to 22 points on a 3-pointer by Jordin Greer at the 8:20 mark. McPherson responded with nine straight points — six from Kristina Battle plus a 3-pointer by Richardson – to cut the Warrior advantage to 13 before Swiftwater drained a three with 5:16 left to end the rally. Back-to-back treys by Richardson over the next minute cut the deficit to just 12 with 4:08 left, but an 8-0 Sterling run put the game out of reach.

McPherson shot 41.2 percent (28-of-68) bolstered by 48.5 percent (16-of-33) shooting in the second half. The Bulldogs finished the game 8-of-24 from 3-point range, but were just 5-of-13 at the line. 

McPherson was effective in forcing turnovers in the first half as the Warriors committed 12 to the Bulldogs' five, but Sterling held a 20-13 edge on the boards, including a 16-4 advantage on the defensive glass. McPherson won the overall turnover battle, 20-11, but could not make up the ground on the boards, where the Warriors finished with a 38-27 edge.

Sterling shot 61.5 percent (32-of-52), falling off slightly from their torrid 66.7 percent (16-of-24) from the first half. The Warriors also hit eight of 12 3-pointers and were 14-of-17 at the line, including 10-of-13 in the second half.

Richardson tallied a team-high 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including five 3-pointers. She also had four assists. Battle added 12 points and five boards, while Danielle Holt had 10 points and six rebounds. Kuhn had nine points — all on 3-pointers — as did Brooklyn Coe. Coe also pulled in five rebounds.

Princ led all players with 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and completed the double-double with 14 rebounds. Kilee Harris nearly had a double-double herself with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight assists and six boards. Greer and Swiftwater added 11 points apiece.

McPherson currently sits in the eighth and final spot for the KCAC Tournament with three weeks to play, one-half game ahead of Oklahoma Wesleyan. A challenging week awaits the Bulldogs, who host No. 18 Tabor College at 5 p.m. Thursday, before tackling league-leading and 14th-ranked Friends University in Wichita at 5 p.m. Saturday evening.