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Thresher men survive Warrior comeback

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Bethel junior Bryant Mocaby dribbles into a Sterling double team during play Monday at Thresher Gym.
Bethel sophomore Kevon Green challenges a shot by Sterling sophomore Rashid Washington during KCAC play Monday.
Bethel junior Jordan Neely makes a pass during play Monday against Sterling.
Bethel freshman Jalyn Todd takes a free throw during play Monday against Sterling.
Bethel junior Jaylon Scott guards Sterling junior Kenan Comley during KCAC play Monday at Thresher Gym.

The Bethel College men’s basketball team played the Dickens out of Sterling College Monday night in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.

It was a tale of two halves — “it was the best of times (the first half), and the worst of times (the second half),” in a 78-74 Bethel win.

Bethel’s 30-point lead with 15:33 remaining evaporated to four by the end of the game.

“We guarded really, really well in the first half,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “Flying all over the floor. We were aggressive in transition. We found some easy shots in the first half. I think we shot over 50 percent from three in the first half. We did a phenomenal job. The way we played in the first half was great.

“The second half, not so much. We got up by 30. We went to our bench completely. Then we lost interest. We thought the game was going to take care of itself. We stopped guarding. We stopped moving the ball on offense. I told our guys, we stopped doing everything in the first half that made us successful. If you don’t do those things. You don’t play hard on every possession, that’s what happens. They started making a bunch of shots. Next thing you know, they chipped it down to 10, then five, then four at the end. That’s a little bit embarrassing as a coach. I think our players feel the same way, being up by 30 and letting it get to four.”

Bethel was led by Tavaughn Flowers with 18 points. Bryant Mocaby added 13 points. Jaylon Scott was held to two points, but had 14 rebounds and three steals.

Sterling, 8-13 overall and 4-12 in KCAC play, was led by JaMiah Haynes with 18 points and eight rebounds. Sean Nordberg scored 12 points. Lucas Briar scored 11 points. Kolby Walker and Ricky Poole each scored 10.

Bethel was 20 of 39 from the field in the first half — six of 12 from 3-point range — but just 10 of 35 in the second half, two of 17 from outside the arc.

Sterling was 12 of 35 in the first half, missing all 12 3-point attempts, but 14 of 30 in the second half, five of 14 from long range.

Down 6-5, Bethel made an 11-2 run. The Threshers led by 24 at the half, 51-27.

Trailing 61-31, Sterling managed to cut that to 12 with three minutes to play. The Warriors cut it to 10 with 1:09 remaining. Bethel missed three free throws and Haynes hit a 3-pointer with 24.7 seconds to play.

Scott finally scored on one of two free throws with 21.1 seconds to play. Briar followed with a 3-pointer. After one of two Scott free throws, Briar hit a putback at the buzzer.

Bethel improves to 14-4, 14-3 in KCAC play. With six games remaining, the Threshers hold a two-game lead over Oklahoma Wesleyan, which has played two fewer games in conference.

The Threshers play at 7 p.m. Saturday at McPherson College, which sits in third place at 12-6 in conference. Bethel beat the Bulldogs 85-62 Dec. 2 in North Newton.

“Mac is good,” Artaz said. “They are one of the top teams in the conference. They have really good guards who can score. It will be a really tough game. They will play hard. We have to be ready to battle with them.”

STERLING (8-13, 4-12 KCAC) — JaMiah Haynes 5-11 6-6 18, Sean Nordberg 4-11 4-4 12, Lucas Briar 4-8 1-2 11, Kenan Comley 0-2 0-0 0, Grant Olson 3-3 0-0 7, Nick Price 0-1 0-0 0, Aaron Michael 0-0 0-0 0, Ricky Poole 3-8 4-4 10, Matthias Nero 1-5 2-2 4, Kolby Walker 5-14 0-0 10, Rashid Washington 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS 26-66 17-18 74.

BETHEL (14-4, 14-3 KCAC) — Tavaughn Flowers 7-15 3-4 18, Kevon Green 3-7 2-2 8, Miki Zewge 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Neely 2-7 0-2 5, Clifford Byrd II 3-12 0-1 7, Jalyn Todd 4-5 1-1 9, Kyle Belvin 1-2 0-0 3, Jaylon Scott 0-4 2-4 2, Nick Bonner 0-0 0-0 0, Bryant Mocaby 5-9 1-3 13, Harper Jonas 3-7 1-1 9, Adam Gouro 2-6 0-0 4. TOTALS 30-74 10-18 78.

Sterling;27;47;—;74

Bethel;51;27;—;78

Total fouls — SC 18, BC 14. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — SC 5-26 (Haynes 2-3, Nordberg 0-5, Briar 2-5, Comley 0-1, Olson 1-1, Price 0-1, Poole 0-3, Nero 0-1, Walker 0-5, Washington 0-1), BC 8-29 (Flowers 1-3, Green 0-2, Neely 1-6, Byrd II 1-5, Belvin 1-2, Mocaby 2-4, Jonas 2-6, Gouro 0-1). Rebounds — SC 47 (Haynes 8), BC 41 (Scott 14). Assists — SC 9 (Comley 3), BC 15 (Byrd II 5). Turnovers — SC 17 (Haynes 5), BC 10 (Byrd II 3). Blocked shots — SC 3 (Haynes 2), BC 4 (Byrd II 2). Steals — SC 4 (Briar 1, Comley 1, Nero 1, Walker 1), BC 11 (Byrd II 4).

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com.