Mishawaka, Ind. – Zach Miller and Ryan Benner combined for 39 points as No. 22 Bethel College upset No. 11 Indiana Wesleyan 95-85 inside the Wiekamp Athletic Center.
The Pilots would shoot 51 percent from the field (32-for-63) while holding the Wildcats to 41 percent from the floor (29-for-70). BC would also outrebound IWU by a commanding 48-30 advantage including 16 on the offensive end.
"I thought we did some very good things on both ends of the floor against a very strong opponent in Indiana Wesleyan," stated Coach Mike Lightfoot. "We had to execute, take care of the ball and break it down one possession at a time."
It would be an uphill battle and a game of spurts in the first half for Bethel as they would quickly find themselves down 10-2 in the first four minutes of action. The Pilots would respond in the form of junior guard Zach Miller.
The 6-2 sniper would connect on back-to-back trey's as part of an 8-0 Pilot run knotting the score at 10-10 with 14:31 left to play in the first half.
IWU's Zac Vandewater would get the hot hand for the Wildcats hitting two consecutive shots from beyond the arc putting IWU up 19-13, but Bethel would go on a quick 6-0 spurt to tie the game once again with just over 10 minutes to play.
Bethel would get their largest lead of the half after a three-point bucket by freshman Caleb Oetjen to put BC in front 26-22 at the 6:12 mark resulting in a Wildcat timeout. IWU would slowly chip away at the small deficit and tie the game for the sixth time at 36-36.
In the closing seconds of the half Miller would get a huge steal from IWU's Bob Peters that resulted in a layup with just 28 seconds left. IWU would come up empty on their last possession giving Bethel a slim 38-36 lead.
For the half the Pilots went 14-for-29 (48 percent) including 4-for-7 (67 percent) from beyond the arc while the Wildcats shot 40 percent from the field on 14-for-35 shooting and an impressive 47 percent from downtown (7-for-15). Miller and IWU's Jordan Weidner would lead all scorers at the break with 11 points, respectively.
The second half saw Bethel fly out of the gates scoring seven straight including a three-pointer from Ryan Benner and four straight from Patrick Oetting to go up nine (45-36) in the first three minutes of play.
Indiana Wesleyan would come no closer than seven points the rest of the way after two free throws from RJ Mahurin at the 18:40 mark. Bethel would use a 6-0 run followed minutes later with a 9-2 spurt to grab their largest lead of the contest at 19 (62-43) with 12:06 left to play.
Bethel would hold their double-digit lead for the next nine minutes until a basket by IWU's Bob Peters closed the lead to just eight (80-72) with 2:55 remaining.
The Pilots would rattle off the next four points thanks to two consecutive baskets from Matt Schauss and Benner to claim an 85-72 advantage.
Indiana Wesleyan (17-5, 7-3) would put Bethel at the free throw line during the final 1:26 but the Pilots sank a perfect 10-for-10 down the stretch to put the game away.
Zach Miller would lead BC with 20 points to go along with six assists and three steals while Ryan Benner added 19 points.
Patrick Oetting and Matt Schauss would deliver two solid performances for Bethel as the duo each recorded 14 points apiece. Oetting would also grab a game-high 12 boards to go along with a block while Schauss pitched in nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in the effort.
The Pilots would also get great minutes from their bench as both Michael Mislan and Brandon Gerber would play vital roles. Mislan would score 10 points and grab six rebounds while Gerber chipped in eight points to go along with 10 rebounds and two assists. The Bethel bench would outscore the IWU reserves 28-14.
"I really thought our guys really responded today," continued Lightfoot. "It was good to see them play with more confidence and passion."
With the victory the Pilots improve their mark to 17-5 and 6-4 in the Crossroads League as they next travel to Goshen College on Tuesday, January 28 for a 7:00pm tip-off.