Even though Bethel falls short in its bid to reach the KCAC post-season tournament, the Threshers’ 72-67 win over 22nd-ranked (NAIA Division II) Friends is still important for a lot of reasons.
Bethel rallied from 11 points down. Bethel also snaps a six-game losing streak. A win Saturday could give the team a .500 season and its best season since 2003-04.
The win snaps a five-game losing streak against the Falcons and is only the Threshers’ third win over Friends in the past 15 seasons.
Bethel improves to 14-15, 9-14 in conference play. Bethel was eliminated from the post season when York upset Kansas Wesleyan 56-51 to remain two games ahead of the Threshers for seventh place.
“It frustrates you a little bit because of what you want for these guys,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “I wanted it for these guys so bad for them to get into the conference tournament. As hard as they worked and as hard as they worked on changing themselves, the team and our culture, you want them to be rewarded for it. That doesn’t take the shine off beating a ranked team and holding a team that is averaging almost 90 points a game to 58 in regulation. We never set a goal at the beginning of the season. We just say we want to play Bethel basketball at the beginning of the season. This was the epitome of what we’re trying to do.”
Bethel was led by Terrell Marshall with 19 points. Clifford Byrd Jr. scored points. Jaylon Scott scored 12 points with a season-high 16 rebounds.
Friends was led by Jordan Murdock with 27 points. Atir Cherne scored 13 and Zion Fralin added 12. Murdock finishes with 57 points in two games against Bethel.
Friends falls to 20-8, 16-7 in conference play. Friends remains in third place in the KCAC standings.
A 13-2 Friends run put Bethel down by 10 in the first half. A Byrd Jr. hit a layup got Bethel within four at the half, 29-25.
Bethel got within two early in the second half. A Murdock three-point play with 11:21 in regulation to put the Falcons up by 11.
Poe Bryant put Bethel in the lead with two free throws with 1:27 in regulation. After a Bethel steal, Marshall hit a layup.
James Conley hit one of two free throws with 47 seconds to play. After a Bethel missed layup, Cherne hit a layup with 8.8 seconds in regulation to tie the game. Scott was called for a travel with 3.4 seconds in regulation when it appeared that he was pushed.
A Friends shot at the buzzer rimmed off.
Marshall opened the overtime with a short jumper. Murdock answered with a trey. Bethel got up by three on a Scott layup. The two teams then traded points until a each team missed a 3-pointer setting up a Murdock layup.
Scott hit a layup with a free throw with 30.5 seconds left to put Bethel up by four. A Murdock shot was blocked and Scott was fouled on the rebound, hitting one of two free throws. After Friends missed a layup, Marshall missed a pair of free throws.
“Our guys were really excited to play for our seniors (Sam Morgan, Joe Rushing and Trey Sleep),” Artaz said. “I know they didn’t have a huge impact on the floor this year besides Sam, but the things they brought to this team, I can’t say enough about. Trey has been so selfless. He never complains. Sam helps us to the next level. Joe came in and started well for us today.”
Bethel ends the season at 7 p.m. Saturday at McPherson. The Bulldogs are 10-18, 6-17 in conference, after an 85-78 loss at Saint Mary.
“We want to come out and compete right away,” Artaz said. “We want to send our seniors out the right way. The last game of your career, you want to go out with a win. This game puts us at 15-15. It’s been a while.”
FRIENDS (20-8, 16-7 KCAC) — Vitor Haefeli 1-1 0-0 2, Jordan Murdock 10-18 5-5 27, Atir Cherne 6-13 1-3 13, Zion Fralin 6-7 0-1 12, Tate Vang 1-2 1-1 3, Anthoney Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Vernon Vaughn 1-9 0-0 2, Jarrett Murphy 0-2 0-0 0, James Conley 2-8 1-3 6, Luke Evans 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 28-65 8-13 67.
BETHEL (14-15, 9-14 KCAC) — Trey Sleep 3-3 0-0 6, Poe Bryant 3-9 2-2 8, Dakota Foster 0-4 0-0 0, Terrell Marshall 8-15 2-4 19, Sam Morgan 1-4 0-0 2, Kiesean Weiher 3-8 1-2 7, Jaylon Scott 5-12 2-4 12, Greg White 0-0 0-0 0, Clifford Byrd, Jr 6-9 0-1 13, Joe Rushing 2-8 0-0 5. Totals 31-72 7-13 72.
Total fouls — Fr. 15, BC 16. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — Fr. 3-15 (Murdock 2-6, Cherne 0-4, Collins 0-1, Conley 1-3, Evans 0-1), BC 3-20 (Bryant 0-3, Foster 0-3, Marshall 1-4, Morgan 0-1, Weiher 0-1, Scott 0-2, Byrd, Jr 1-3, Rushing 1-3). Rebounds — Fr. 35 (Vaughn 8), BC 46 (Scott 16). Assists — Fr. 9 (Conley 4), BC 11 (Marshall 5). Turnovers — Fr. 22 (Murdock 7), BC 24 (Scott 4). Blocked shots — Fr. 2 (Conley 2), BC 6 (White 2). Steals — Fr. 12 (Vang 3), BC 8 (Byrd Jr. 3).