NORTH NEWTON, — Danielle Holt posted game-highs with 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench to lead the McPherson College women's basketball team, but the Bulldogs could not overcome a sluggish first half in a 62-52 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference loss to Bethel College Saturday night at Thresher Gymnasium.
After a handful of empty possessions for both teams to begin the game, the Bulldogs struck first as Brooklyn Coe drained a 3-pointer at the 8:42 mark of the opening frame. The Threshers responded by scoring seven of the next nine points before Brittany Roberts was able to connect for a hoop with 5:41 to play to tie the game at 7-all. From there, McPherson went cold. The Bulldogs missed their final seven shots from the field and were limited to just a free throw by Holt as Bethel grabbed a 13-8 lead headed to the second quarter.
McPherson opened the second quarter with four straight points from Coe to cut the deficit to just one with 7:44 remaining in the half, but the Bulldogs' shooting woes persisted and Bethel was able to build an eight-point lead before another Holt free throw and a late hoop by Sonerka White sent the teams to the locker rooms with Bethel holding a 24-19 advantage.
The Bulldogs shot just 6-of-30 (20.0 percent) in the first half - 3-of-15 in each quarter - while the Threshers were 9-of-26 (34.6 percent).
The teams split the first 10 points of the third quarter with a White 3-pointer moving the score to 29-24 at the 6:31 mark. Bethel followed with a 10-0 run over the next 3:43 sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from Kelsey Potter. McPherson missed four shots during the stretch before Brooke Racette scored a hoop with 2:48 to play. The Racette bucket ignited a Bulldog rally as McPherson closed the quarter on a 12-3 run to trail by just six headed to the final frame.
Baskets by Holt and Cami Richardson to start the fourth quarter brought the Bulldogs within two at 42-40, but the Threshers responded with six straight points and 11 of the next 14 to build a double-digit lead. The Bethel advantage would grow to 13 with 3:42 left in the game on another Potter 3-pointer. McPherson scored five of the final seven points but could not get the lead back to single digits.
Both teams shot 14-of-36 (38.9 percent) from the field in the second half, leaving McPherson at 20-of-66 (30.3 percent) overall and Bethel at 23-of-62 (37.1 percent). The Threshers had a slim 6-4 advantage in made 3-points (off 24 attempts for both schools), while both teams struggled at the free throw line.
Holt reached her game-high 16 on 6-of-10 shooting. She also hit four of six free throws. Coe added nine points and Roberts and White had seven apiece, while Richardson checked in with six points, eight rebounds and three assists. Racette was next with four points and six rebounds and Kristina Battle rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs with a 3-pointer.
Abby Schmidt matched Holt with 16 points and 10 boards but also added five blocked shots. Riley Schmieder and Potter added 12 points apiece with Schmieder just missing a double-double with nine rebounds. Jade Brown added eight points, six assists and five rebounds.
The loss left McPherson alone in eighth place in the final KCAC standings, qualifying the Bulldogs for the KCAC postseason tournament and setting up a matchup with No. 22 Friends University in a first-round tournament matchup Wednesday night. The Falcons - who won the KCAC by a full six games - have won 13 in a row and were victorious in both previous matchups.
Friends edged McPherson, 53-52, in Wichita in early December, then posted a 77-70 victory on January 31 in McPherson.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. from the Garvey Physical Education Center in Wichita.