MISHAWAKA, Ind. - The Huntington men’s basketball team knocked off #13 Bethel College 95-90 Tuesday night at Wiekamp Athletic Center. The W is HU’s third straight league win and their second big upset of the year, the first against then-ranked #4 Indiana Wesleyan back on December 2.
Tonight’s dub also snaps a seven-game losing streak to Bethel and makes Coach Ty Platt the second most winningest coach in program history with 167 career victories second only to his dad, Steve Platt, who racked up 329 wins over his 14-year coaching stint.
The loss for the Pilots (17-6, 6-5) is their third straight and the first time since 2013-14 BC has lost three consecutive league contests.
The first seven minutes weren’t HU’s finest as they managed just three points while coughing up the ball five times to give Bethel its biggest lead of the night at 15-3 but it was soon forgotten once the visitors’ went to work from long range.
Devon Merder’s trey was Huntington’s only three points of the game until Mason Coverstone drained a second one with just under 13 minutes left in the half to start a barrage of long balls. The duo was the first of seven Foresters to drain one from downtown in the opening twenty minutes.
Andrew Yoder knocked down a pair with his first at the 8:25 mark forcing the game’s first tie at 26-26 and his second, just 30 seconds later, giving his team its first lead at 29-26. Kyle Platt then took his turn by burying three triples over a two-minute span starting at the six-minute mark to preserve the lead at 40-38.
The final four minutes leading up to intermission featured two ties and three lead changes before the hosts claimed a 49-47 halftime lead by way of Dominic Genco’s buzzer-beater. Despite the two-point deficit, HU still took momentum into the locker room thanks to their impressive shooting display from long range as they canned 11 of their 17 threes to account for 33 of their 47 first half points.
Huntington picked up where they left off to start the second frame as their opening nine points came from beyond the arc with Platt’s fourth and final three-pointer at the 17:10 mark giving his team a permanent lead of 56-53. The younger Platt, Konner, then got in the mix by scoring seven of HU’s next 11 points to swell the lead to double digits at 67-57.
It was the first of three double-digit leads for HU but each time they had their hosts on the ropes, Bethel answered as the difference never extended beyond 11 points. While the Pilots kept things close, Mike Bush made sure it never got too close.
Playing in front of his hometown friends and family, the South Bend native hit big shot after big shot to score 22 of his team-high 32 points in the second period which included scoring four points from the line in the final 1:14 to preserve the win.
Of his floor general, Coach Platt praised the play of Bush. “Mike was very good tonight. He is so hard to keep in front of you and he is playing with a lot of poise and confidence right now.”
Konner Platt netted 19 points and no free throws were bigger than his two with nine ticks remaining that upped his team’s advantage from two to four to put the game out of reach. He finished a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe in addition to collecting five rebounds.
Kyle Platt also had a memorable night by pouring in a season-high 13 points and pulling down a team-best and season-tying six rebounds off the bench to go along with a pair of steals and blocks.
“I was very happy for Kyle,” said Platt. “He is a senior and a young man who understands the game so well.
“He had to battle All-Conference big man Gage Ott all night. Even though he was playing out of position, he defended so well inside to get several steals and boards. He also scored well for us.”
Platt was also pleased with his three other bench players. “We got some big minutes tonight from Andrew, Zac and Luke. This was a great team win for us.”
Ott led all scorers with 36 points in addition to corralling eight rebounds. Other double-digit scorers for the Pilots included Tanner Shepherd with 12 and Luke Fisher with ten.
As a team, the Foresters finished 30-for-57 from the field for 52.6 percent which included going 15-for-28 from deep. HU got to the line 28 times where they scored twenty points. They matched Bethel in rebounds with 32 and committed 14 turnovers to Bethel’s 12.
Huntington’s upset was one of four around the league tonight as the race to the top got even dicier with seven regular season games remaining. Four teams are now in a fight for the No. 3 spot with CL records of 6-5 while HU (9-14) sits just one game behind the bottleneck with a 5-6 league record.
Next up for Platt and crew is a matchup with #14 Spring Arbor on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Platt Arena.
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 274 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.