The Bethel men's basketball team will host Grace College Tuesday at 7pm for the Crossroads League Championship.
Bethel went on the road Saturday, defeating #4 Indiana Wesleyan 102-95 in overtime in the league semifinals in Marion. The Pilots are now off to the league championship game for the 5th time in seven years.
Grace defeated Spring Arbor 68-67 in the other semifinal.
Bethel would set the tone early connecting on their first six shots to sprint out to a quick 16-5 advantage in the first four minutes of play. They were able to hold a double-digit lead until a three-pointer by DJ Bettinger sparked an 8-0 IWU run to cut the Pilots lead to three (19-16) with 9:49 left in the first half. Bethel would soon go on a 7-0 run capped off with a trey from Ryan Benner to put his squad back up ten (26-16).
The Pilots would see their largest lead of the night (11) after a perimeter shot from Zach Miller giving BC a 31-20 advantage with 5:39 remaining.
The final five minutes belonged to Indiana Wesleyan as they closed out the half on a 17-4 run to claim a 37-35 lead at intermission. The Wildcats would shoot 40 percent on 10-of-25 from the field led by senior Lane Mahurin with 12 points. The Pilots connected on 12-of-28 from the floor (42.9 percent) and hit a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. BC was led by Benner's 10 points.
In the final act, Patrick Oetting would start Bethel off with bucket that tied the game at 37-37. After Oetting's basket Indiana Wesleyan would claim their largest lead of the day at six (51-45) after another three from Bettinger with 16:06 left to play. Moments later, with IWU up 57-53 and Bethel in foul trouble, freshman Ryan Wassink would rise to the occasion scoring 12 points all in the second half including 3-of-3 from downtown. Wassink's first trey started an 8-0 run putting the Pilots in front 61-57 at the 11:57 mark.
Wesleyan would slowly claw back to within three, but Wassink would again connect from beyond the arc boosting Bethel to a 73-67 lead with 6:43 left, but IWU would again respond going on a 14-5 run to lead 81-78 with just under four minutes to play.
With 2:16 left in regulation and Bethel down one (85-84) junior Matt Schauss would drive to the hoop for the layup to put BC back in front 86-85. Schauss would then get a steal and another basket to increase the lead to 88-85 with 1:17 remaining. IWU's Bob Peters would soon score making it a one-point game with 39 ticks left. The Pilots would inbound the basketball and work it around to senior Landon Booker who was soon fouled. Booker would connect on the first, but miss his second attempt giving Bethel the slim 89-87 lead.
The Wildcats (26-6) would put the ball into the hands of Crossroads League Player of the Year Jordan Weidner who drove hard to the basket and connected on a difficult shot to tie the score at 89-89 with 20 seconds left. The Pilots would dribble the ball over half court and quickly call timeout with 12 seconds remaining. Tough defensive pressure from Wesleyan resulted in a difficult baseline jumper from Matt Schauss that would fall short forcing the game into overtime.
Ryan Benner would set the tone in OT on the first possession connecting on a shot from downtown. The next possession saw RJ Mahurin drive to the basket drawing Ryan Wassink's fifth foul. Senior Michael Mislan would come into the contest as both Wassink andPatrick Oetting had fouled out. Mahurin missed both attempts at the line that resulted in two-points the other way from Mislan on an offensive putback. IWU came right back with a hoop to climb back to within three (94-91) with 1:25 remaining in overtime. On the ensuing offensive possession for Bethel the Pilots would work the clock before seeing Landon Booker drive to the basket to score while drawing RJ Mahurin's fifth foul. Booker would complete the old-fashioned three-point play giving his team a 97-91 advantage.
The Wildcats would continue to stay in it after a three-point bomb from Weidner to make it 97-94 with just 58 seconds remaining in OT.
Bethel (25-7) would once again patiently work the clock and executed perfectly asMatt Schauss got a driving layup with 29 ticks left to go up 99-95. Weidner would take the inbounds and go the length of the floor to draw a foul on Mislan with 21 seconds left. He would go 1-of-2 from the line as IWU was forced to foul putting Ryan Benner at the line. Benner would also go 1-of-2 from the free throw stripe putting Bethel in front 100-95. A quick three-point attempt from Weidner would be off the mark and rebounded by Mislan who was fouled converting on both tosses to close out the upset victory 102-95.
Ryan Benner would have a stellar performance pouring in 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. Zach Miller would continue his hot streak scoring 24 points including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc while junior classmate Matt Schaussadded 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Wassink's 12 points is a career high.