By Mark Schnabel
For the second straight game, the Bethel College men’s basketball team lost a late lead, falling to Friends 75-73 Wednesday in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.
James Conley hit a jumper with 1.5 seconds to play for the winning basket. Friends trailed by nine late in the game, but got back in the game from the free throw line. There were 53 fouls called, 27 against Bethel.
Friends was 21 of 26 from the line, while Bethel was 23 of 33.
“They shot 22 free throws in the second half,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “They shot the majority of those in the second half. They were getting to the line basically every time down the floor. We didn’t get stops. When we don’t get stops, you don’t win close games. We couldn’t close it out. We shot well in the second half. If we shoot that well in the first half, we probably win by 20. We defended as good as we did all season and took them out of anything they wanted to run. Things changed in the second half. They started driving downhill. In the first half, they weren’t getting those calls and in the second half, they were.”
Bethel falls to 18-9, 13-8 in the KCAC. The Threshers fall from fifth to seventh in the conference with three games remaining. Bethel can still win a share of the the conference title with three wins, three Ottawa losses, two Oklahoma Wesleyan losses, and at least one loss from Friends, McPherson, Southwestern and Kansas Wesleyan.
Friends improves to 17-10, 15-7 in conference play. Friends moves into third place in the conference, a game and a half-game behind Ottawa and a half-game behind Oklahoma Wesleyan.
The Falcons sweep the series with Bethel by a combined total of three points.
Conley led Friends with 24 points. Davonte Pack added 15 points with 10 rebounds. Jun Murdock scored 12.
Poe Bryant led Bethel with 21 points, hitting 15 of 20 from the line. Jaylon Scott scored 19 points with 17 rebounds. Garrett White scored 11 points.
“We probably have to win three to get a home game,” Artaz said. “We have to go to Oklahoma Wesleyan and we have a tough one in Avila.”
Bethel led 12-5 in the first 10 minutes of play. Friends came back with an 11-3 run. The Falcons led by as many as seven. Bethel closed within one at the half, 27-26. Friends missed two free throws with .3 seconds remaining.
Bethel was just seven of 34 shooting in the first half for 20.6 percent. Friends was 11 of 28 for 39.3 percent.
Bethel tied the game on a Bryant layup three minutes into the second half. Scott put Bethel in the lead with a layup with 11:30 remaining in regulation. Garrett White followed with a 3-pointer, missing a free throw on the play.
Bethel got out by as many as nine, missing chances to extend the lead. A Conley three-point play got the Falcon within four with 6:52 remaining. Scott hit a layup on the other end. He was fouled and injured on the play. Marshall missed the free throw, but after a defensive stop, Greg White hit a 3-pointer.
Scott would return after a couple of minutes out.
Friends climbed back into the game at the free throw line. Conley hit two free throws with 2:31 to play to get Friends within four. Bethel was called for a foul on the inbounds, setting up a Murdock layup.
Bryant broke the run with two free throws with 2:06 in regulation.
Friends got within one on a pair of Conley free throws with 52 seconds in regulation. After one of two Greg White free throws, Conley tied the game with 38 seconds in regulation on a layup.
Scott was called for a charge with 15 seconds remaining. Bethel nearly stole the ball back on the inbounds.
A last-second shot by the Threshers on a cross-court pass went behind the backboard.
Bethel hosts Avila at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles are 10-16, 8-12 in the conference and a half-game over York in eighth place in the KCAC. Bethel beat Avila 79-78 in overtime earlier this year in Kansas City, Mo.
“We squeaked one out up there,” Artaz said. “Shandon Boone is one of the best players in the conference right now. It’s tough guard him. They have (Eric) Smith Jr., who is back from injury. We didn’t see him the first time. He has size and length.”
FRIENDS (17-10, 15-7 KCAC) — Gabriel Coachman 3-4 2-2 8, Bryant Rogers 2-2 0-0 6, Zion Fralin 2-5 0-0 5, Jarrett Murphy 0-1 0-0 0, James Conley 8-18 7-8 24, Phillip Medrano 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson Oldham 0-0 0-0 0, Braden Larcom 0-0 0-0 0, Cedric Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Jun Murdock 4-9 3-4 12, Davonte Pack 3-12 8-10 15, Marquan Shakur 2-2 1-2 5. TOTALS 24-54 21-26 75.
BETHEL (18-9, 13-8 KCAC) — Poe Bryant 3-10 15-20 21, Tavaughn Flowers 0-0 0-0 0, Terrell Marshall 3-9 0-1 9, Garrett White 3-13 3-5 11, Greg White 2-3 3-4 8, Jordan Neely 0-0 0-0 0, Clifford Byrd II 1-5 0-0 2, Dakota Foster 1-6 0-0 3, Jaylon Scott 7-14 2-3 19. TOTALS 20-60 23-33 73.
Total fouls — Fr. 26, BC 27. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — Fr.: Rogers 2:06-2h. BC: Marshall 1:44-2h. 3-point shooting — Fr. 6-17 (Rogers 2-2, Fralin 1-2, Conley 1-5, Medrano 0-1, Murdock 1-2, Pack 1-5), BC 10-29 (Bryant 0-3, Marshall 3-5, Ga.White 2-7, Gr.White 1-1, Byrd II 0-2, Foster 1-4, Scott 3-7). Rebounds — Fr. 42 (Pack 10), BC 38 (Scott 17). Assists — Fr. 9 (Murdock 4), BC 12 (Bryant 3, Byrd II 3, Scott 3). Turnovers — Fr. 15 (Pack 6), BC 12 (Ga.White 4). Blocked shots — Fr. 3 (Conley 3), BC 1 (Marshall 1). Steals — Fr. 3 (Coachman 1, Rogers 1, Conley 1), BC 8 (Ga.White 2, Gr.White 2).