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Bethel men hit against McPherson

Mark Schnabel
mschnabel@thekansan.com
Bethel junior Clifford Byrd II lays one in during play Wednesday against KCAC leaders McPherson. Byrd scored 18 points with 8 rebounds and 5 steals.

For the second straight game, the Bethel College men’s basketball team had the hot hand shooting, and for the first time this season, the McPherson Bulldogs didn’t.

The result was an 85-62 Thresher win Wednesday night in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.

Bethel, 6-3 overall and 6-2 in KCAC play, finished the night 30 of 68 from the field, 13 of 31 from 3-point range. McPherson finished 20 of 67, six of 29 from 3-point range.

Bethel wins its fifth straight. In the past two games, the Threshers are 32 of 75 from 3-point range and have scored 112 points off the bench.

“We got them on a bad shooting night, which I think is helpful,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “I thought defensive activity, we wanted to be really active on defense. They have some guys who can shoot the ball. They were missing one of those guys. Overall, I don’t think they got any great looks. We did a really good job of being there at all times. Their guys who got open looks were not the guys who were their best shooters. … It was a good defensive grind it out.”

Bethel was led by Clifford Byrd II with 18 points and eight rebounds. He added five steals. Jordan Neely scored 11 points off the bench.

“I was feeling it today,” Byrd II said. “I’m always feeling it on defense. I felt it a lot on offense today. I guess the mindset going into break is to go undefeated. We have two more games. The difference (between the start of the season and the winning streak) is we’re practicing a lot more on defense. That’s was was killing us. We take it possession by possession on defense.”

McPherson, 4-1 overall and 2-1 in KCAC play, was led by Fred Watts with 15 points and Rock Hardison with 12 points and seven rebounds.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” McPherson coach T.J. Eskildsen said. “You have to give a lot of credit to Bethel for that. They had taken us out of our rhythm and I just didn’t think we did a very good job of reacting to their defensive pressure. We have to be ready to bounce back.”

McPherson was held scoreless for the first five minutes of play, but only trailed 6-0. Bethel started opening up from the outside to lead by as many as 27. Bethel led 45-20 at the half.

Bethel was 16 of 32 shooting in the half. McPherson was five of 33.

Bethel didn’t score for the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half, but gave up just three points in that span. The Threshers pulled away by as many as 38. Bethel put the starters on the bench for about the last 10 minutes, allowing the Bulldogs to get within 23.

“You look at the last two games, (leading scorer) Jaylon (Scott) had just four points,” Artaz said. “One of our coaches joked with him and said he would just score four points again. Jaylon said ‘as long as we win by 30, I’ll be fine with it.’ We didn’t need it. Clifford Byrd (II) was fantastic today. That was one of the better games he played. He was aggressive at all times.”

McPherson plays at 3 p.m. Saturday at Friends. The Falcons downed Ottawa 81-73 for their first win of the season.

“We have five road games in a row, so we’ll see what our toughness is,” Eskildsen said. “Can we bounce back from this. Every team has faced adversity this year, so we’ll see what we got. It’s hard when you don’t practice for 23 days straight. The guys are a little bit out of rhythm, but everybody is facing it.”

Bethel hosts 2-1 Ottawa at 5 p.m. Saturday. Ottawa is the defending KCAC champs.

“If we play as hard as we did today, and we shoot as well as we did today, we are a tough team to beat,” Artaz said. “… They’re defending conference champs and no. 14 in the nation (NAIA). They have only played one game in the last month and a half. They are going to be in a similar situation as McPherson. They have talent and they have size. They are always good.”

Bethel men 85, McPherson 62

McPHERSON (4-1, 2-1 KCAC) — Fred Watts 4-11 7-8 15, Josh Rivers 2-5 0-0 6, Myles McCrary 0-6 0-2 0, Kemryn Jenkins 2-14 2-2 8, Trenton Crow 3-8 2-3 8, Khalil Morris 1-1 0-0 2, Luis Rodriguez 0-1 0-0 0, Gage Maccoy 0-5 0-0 0, Jason Okoro 0-1 0-0 0, Jerome Washington 2-4 0-0 6, Anthony Peterson-Lockett 2-2 0-0 4, Ja'Quan Chestnut 0-4 1-2 1, Rock Hardison 4-5 4-8 12. TOTALS 20-67 16-25 62.

BETHEL (6-3, 6-2 KCAC) — Tavaughn Flowers 1-4 2-2 4, Jared Mocaby 2-5 0-0 6, Miki Zewge 0-4 0-0 0, Jordan Neely 4-7 0-0 11, Clifford Byrd II 7-14 2-3 18, Jalyn Todd 3-3 2-4 8, Kyle Belvin 2-3 0-0 5, Jaylon Scott 2-3 0-0 4, Nick Bonner 3-5 0-0 8, Bryant Mocaby 2-8 2-2 7, Jared Richardson 1-4 0-0 2, Harper Jonas 2-4 3-4 9, Adam Gouro 1-2 0-2 2, Ike Umeh 0-2 1-2 1. TOTALS 30-68 12-19 85.

McPherson;20;42;—;62

Bethel;45;40;—;85

Total fouls — MC 19, BC 17. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — MC 6-29 (Watts 0-4, Rivers 2-4, McCrary 0-2, Jenkins 2-7, Crow 0-2, Rodriguez 0-1, Maccoy 0-3, Washington 2-4, Chestnut 0-2), BC 13-31 (Flowers 0-1, Mocaby 2-5, Zewge 0-2, Neely 3-6, Byrd II 2-3, Belvin 1-2, Bonner 2-4, Mocaby 1-4, Jonas 2-4). Rebounds — MC 47 (Hardison 7), BC 47 (Byrd II 8). Assists — MC 9 (Rivers 4), BC 19 (Scott 6). Turnovers — MC 21 (Jenkins 4), BC 19 (Byrd II 5). Blocked shots — MC 2 (Watts 1, Washington 1), BC 2 (Todd 1, Gouro 1). Steals — MC 8 (Jenkins 2), BC 12 (Byrd II 5).

Bethel junior Tavaughn Flowers guards a McPherson ball handler during play Wednesday at Thresher Gym.