Thresher men overcome slow start
It took about 10 minutes of game time for the Bethel College men’s basketball team to get back to pre-break form and down Southwestern 73-66 on Wednesday night in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.
The win was Bethel’s ninth straight, improving to 10-3, 10-2 in KCAC play. Southwestern played its first game since Nov. 17, falling to 6-4, 2-2 in KCAC play.
“In the first half, it seemed like we were still on Christmas break,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “We were not aggressive. It seemed like we played on our heels. Southwestern came out and definitely played with more aggression and more energy early on. We were able to start getting a lot of transition stuff, then we finally started to guard somebody.”
Bethel was led by Jaylon Scott with 25 points and 11 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season and 35th of his career.
“It was the first game back from a long break,” Scott said. “We knew the whole time we were going to get going. We weren’t worried about it. We just love playing together. We love being together. We love competing together. We love fighting together. There were no changes (during the break). We just made sure we were playing together.”
Freshman Harper Jonas scored a career-high 14 points. Clifford Byrd II scored 13 points.
Southwestern was led by Geoffrey Salas with 16 points. Steele Gaston-Chapman and Braylon Steen each added 11 points. Zhahidi Robinson scored 10 points. Troy Baker had 11 rebounds.
Bethel jumped out 8-5, but gave up a 19-3 run. Bethel rallied back, taking a 30-29 lead on Scott layup with 2:47 left in the first half. Jonas' trey with just under a minute left in the half put Bethel ahead 35-32.
Bethel opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but foul trouble allowed Southwestern to stick around. At one points, fouls were 8-3 against Bethel. The Moundbuilders got within five on a pair of Salas free throws with 4:57 in regulation. An Adam Gouro slam put Bethel back up by 11 with 1:32 to play. Despite missed free throws down the stretch, the Threshers were able to hold on.
“The good news is we had a big enough lead that the free throws didn’t hurt us,” Artaz said. “We’ll focus on that in practice and try to work on staying relaxed. For whatever reason, we couldn’t quite put them in today.”
Bethel takes another week off and plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Oklahoma Wesleyan. Bethel beat the Eagles 97-91 on Nov. 4 in overtime. OWU is 8-3, 5-2 in KCAC play.
“That will be a really tough game playing out there,” Artaz said. “We beat them in overtime in the first conference game of the season. It will be a dogfight. They are really deep and really good. They will be a challenge for us.”
BETHEL MEN 73, SOUTHWESTERN 66