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#4 Bethel escapes Platt Arena with 102-94 win

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HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The #4 Bethel College Pilots escaped Platt Arena with a 102-94 win over the HU men’s basketball team (14-9, 5-6) Tuesday night in a Crossroads League barn burner. It came down to whichever team pieced together the final run and on this given night, Bethel’s Gage Ott fueled what proved to be that final run by scoring five his team’s seven points in a 7-1 spurt that turned the game’s 14th tie of 88-88 into a 95-89 advantage with just under 90 seconds remaining.

It was game management after that as the Pilots went 7-for-8 from the line to secure their ninth straight win and improve to 20-3 overall, 10-1 in league play.

In addition to 14 ties, the night also featured 14 lead changes. While the final difference was Bethel’s largest lead of the contest, eight points also proved to be HU’s largest advantage. Unfortunately it came relatively early on. With things knotted up at 4-4, Mike Bush scored seven of his 23 first half points as part of a 12-4 tear to give his team a 16-8 lead by the 13:31 mark of the first frame.

The Foresters remained in front for another six minutes before the half turned into more of a ping pong match than a basketball game. Nick Kindig, this week’s Crossroads League Player of the Week, knocked down a baseline jumper at the 7:32 mark to force the game’s third tie at 27-27.

It was an all-out battle the rest of the period as the lead bounced back and forth ten times with Bush’s pullup jumper at the elbow giving Coach Platt and crew a 50-48 lead heading into the locker room.

Both teams shot the ball well in the opening 20 minutes. The Foresters went 18-for-33 for 54.5 percent from the field while canning all eight of their freebies. Bethel was even more efficient from the floor, going 20-for-34 for 58.8 percent, while connecting on three of their four free throws.

While the Pilots opened up the second half with a 9-2 run for a 57-52 lead just over two minutes in, the Foresters didn’t get rattled. Instead, they answered methodically by outscoring their visitors 12 over a four-minute span. Behind eight points from Daniel Woll which included a three-pointer and traditional three point play, HU jumped back on top, 67-60.

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Bethel also wasn’t rattled. Instead they scored seven straight points to deadlock things for the tenth time at 67-67 with just over 12 minutes remaining. Tyler Arens buried a three on the ensuing Forester possession to put the hosts up by three but it was only a matter of minutes before the visitors closed the gap and took back the lead for a 73-71 tilt by the midway point of the stanza.

Huntington would go on to keep things close and force two more ties but wouldn’t enjoy another lead the rest of the way.

Bush topped all scorers with a career-best 38 points on 14-for-21 shooting which included six long balls. He also handed out nine dimes. Arens finished with 21 points, the ninth time this season he’s scored at least 20 points, to go along with a game-high seven rebounds. Woll tallied 16 points and five rebounds.

Bethel tapped into their arsenal of offensive weapons with Caleb Oetjen leading the way with 17 points. Other double digit scorers for BC including Kindig with 16, Paul Forman with 15 and Ott and Clay Yeo with 13 each.

HU finished 32-for-65 from the field for 49.2 percent while the Pilots sizzled the nets for 60.0 percent (39-for-65). After hitting all eight of their free throw attempts in the first half, HU managed to go just 11-for-19 from the line in the final 20 minutes to finish 70.4 percent for the game.

Tonight’s win is Bethel’s sixth straight over the Foresters.  With seven regular season games remaining, the Pilots sit atop the conference while the Foresters are in sixth with a chance to bump up into fifth should Grace get the best of Mount Vernon tomorrow night.

Huntington hits the road on Saturday to face Spring Arbor University at 3:00 p.m.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 254 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.