HUNTINGTON, Ind. - In a pivotal MCC match-up, the hot-handed Pilots of Bethel College (13-7, 5-4) stole an 84-77 road win from the 19th-ranked Foresters (13-8, 5-4) Tuesday night.
HU entered the contest in sole possession of second place in conference standings but with this loss, they are back in a five-way tie for the No. 2 spot.
Both teams shot the ball well in the first half to go an identical 16-for-29 from the field for 55.2%. While the Pilots knocked down seven treys to the Foresters’ four, HU outscored the visitors 7-0 from the charity stripe to take a 43-39 into the locker room.
Huntington enjoyed a solid inside out game with Caleb Kennedy and Shane Merryman combining for 21 first half points while the guard play of Tyler Ault and Nick Teeter dropped in seven points apiece to account for all but eight of the Foresters’ scoring in the first twenty minutes.
After ten minutes of an all-out battle that included nine lead changes, the Foresters pieced together a 14-2 run capped off by an Ault trey to take their largest lead of the night at 36-22 with just over five minutes remaining in the opening period.
The youthful Pilots didn’t seem fazed as they rallied to score on seven of their next ten possessions, which included a trio of threes, to trim the lead to four by the half’s end.
Randall Lowe got the Foresters off to a great second half start by scoring six of HU’s first ten points to extend the lead to 54-46 at the 15:00 mark. Huntington held onto the lead over the next eight minutes until Zach Miller’s fifth 3-pointer of the night turned the lead back over to the visitors who took full advantage of the momentum shift.
The Foresters took a brief one-point lead three minutes later when Ryan Boester knocked down a trey but the Pilots outworked the Foresters on the boards for an easy put back with just over four minutes remaining to push back on top for good. Bethel ‘s aggressiveness on the boards continued to pay off as they scored three more times on second chance buckets to hold off the Foresters for the win.
Kennedy topped all scorers with 21 points. He also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds and dished out four assists. Merryman finished with 15 points and Lowe and Nick Teeter each added ten points in the losing effort. Miller led a balanced Pilot attack with 20 points. Also scoring in double figures for Bethel was Matt Schauss with 15, Nick Lewis with 12 and Landon Booker with ten.
Saturday marks the second go-around in MCC play. The Foresters travel to Saint Francis looking to avenge their 81-74 loss to the Cougars back on November 22.