BC men win first tourney game
WICHITA — The Bethel College men’s basketball team was seemingly in control for most the game against the Voorhees Tigers Friday in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament at the Garvey Center in Wichita.
Things almost got away from the Threshers down the stretch, but Bethel held on for an 82-79 win.
It was the first win for the Threshers in national tournament play and just the second appearance.
“Honestly, I thought I would be a lot happier,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “I didn’t think we played particularly well. That’s our measuring stick, trying to play good basketball. It is great. It is the first win in Bethel history, winning a game at the national tournament. We have to enjoy that. We have to soak that in. It feels good to make history. It feels good that we are going to get a chance to play. I told my guys in the locker room, I might not be happy with how we played, but it’s a lot better to not be happy with how we played, and get a second chance at it rather than go home.”
Jaylon Scott led the Threshers with 29 points and 17 rebounds, his 17th double double of the season and 46th of his career. Clifford Byrd II scored 13 points. Freshman Harper Jonas scored 11 points. Bryant Mocaby scored 10 points.
“I think as a team, we feel like we can do better,” Scott said. “There are things we can work on. What makes it great is we know we can do better and hold each other accountable. We’ll go break down film and come back at it tomorrow. … I got (rebounds), which is my job. I was able to get to the line tonight, which was good.”
“Our freshmen stepped up huge today,” Artaz said. “Nick Bonner played really well. Harper played well. (Adam Gouro) was a presence inside to get some offensive boards and stick backs. The thing people sometimes forget is we’re a really young team. We’ve been good all season, but our inexperience showed tonight — all juniors, sophomores and freshmen. It’s a new experience for all of us.”
Malik Wood led 3-9 Voorhees with 23 points. Julius Phillips added 10 points. The Tigers qualified for nationals by winning the NAIA independents tournament.
Bethel jumped to an 8-0 lead in just over 2 1/2 minutes of play. The Threshers led by as many as 12 early in the game. Up 21-9, Bethel gave up an 11-2 run. Scott broke the run with a three-point play, sparking a 7-0 Thresher run.
A Jonas slam dunk on a feed from Scott with 4.5 seconds left in the half put Bethel up 41-30. Byrd II’s steal set up the play.
“I just had a feeling,” Scott said. “I saw him streaking down the line. I got him the pass and he dunked it.”
Bethel scored the first basket of the second half, but Voorhees was able to get within five. Jonas hit 3-pointer, followed by a layup off a steal, to put Bethel up by 17, but Voorhees quickly got back to within 10.
A Scott three-point play put Bethel up by six with 2:40 remaining. Voorhees came back with a 6-0 run. Scott broke the run with one of two free throws, but 3 hit a 3-pointer with 7.8 seconds remaining to get the Tigers within two. Jonas hit one of two free throws with seven seconds remaining. A Voorhees shot at the buzzer went long.
Bethel, 20-6, faces 23rd-ranked Northwestern (Iowa) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The winner advances to the round of 16 next week in Kansas City, Mo.
“Northwestern is really, really good,” Artaz said. “They have a really good freshman big, who is the best big we’ve seen all season. It’s a unique challenge. The KCAC isn’t known for good post play overall. We’re more of a guard’s league. It will be interesting to have a different way to attack a team. It will be a different way we have to guard. The (Great Plains Athletic Conference) is a good league. They are very physical. They are super solid. They won’t beat themselves and you can’t beat yourself going against them.”
VOORHEES (3-9) — Statan Levine 3-8 0-0 6, Terril Windom 2-4 0-0 5, Bryce Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Jarvis Martin 0-2 0-0 0, Julius Phillips 4-7 2-2 10, Hector Rosario 3-6 2-2 8, Ezekiel Williamsonbey 2-4 2-2 6, Jordan Blue 4-8 0-0 8, Malik Wood 9-13 2-3 23, Zachary White 2-3 0-0 4, Joell Davis 4-10 0-0 9. TOTALS 33-66 8-9 79.
BETHEL (20-6) — Jaylon Scott 10-15 9-14 29, Clifford Byrd II 5-14 3-3 13, Tavaughn Flowers 0-6 2-2 2, Kevon Green 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Neely 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Gouro 4-8 1-2 9, Harper Jonas 4-4 1-2 11, Bryant Mocaby 4-13 1-2 10, Nick Bonner 2-4 0-1 5, Jalyn Todd 1-1 1-4 3. TOTALS 30-65 18-30 82.
Total fouls — VC 20, BC 10. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — VC: Phillips 3:11-2h. 3-point shooting — VC 5-13 (Levine 0-3, Windom 1-3, Blue 0-1, Wood 3-4, Davis 1-2), BC 4-19 (Byrd II 0-6, Flowers 0-2, Jonas 2-2, Mocaby 1-7, Bonner 1-2). Rebounds — VC 36 (Levine 6, Blue 6), BC 41 (Scott 17). Assists — VC 13 (Wood 5), BC 11 (Byrd II 4). Turnovers — VC 18 (Wood 5), BC (Byrd II 6). Blocked shots — VC 0, BC 3 (Byrd II 4). Steals — VC 10 (Blue 3, Wood 3), BC 13 (Scott 6).
Mark Schnabel can be reached at email@example.com