The Bethany men’s basketball team entered Saturday afternoon’s game at Hahn Gym on a seven game losing skid.
The desperate Swedes used Justin Jones’ 27 points and a late 6-0 run to beat Avila, 79-76.
Led by Isiah Saenz, the Swedes were able to do something that they hadn’t done in the seven game losing streak–play with the lead in the first half. Saenz would convert on his first three 3-point shots to give BC the early lead.
However, Avila wouldn’t get too far behind because of the brilliance of Shandon Boone. Boone did it inside and he did it outside in the first half as the Eagles’ leading scorer would pile up 25 first half points.
Still, Bethany continued its lead all the way until the final minute when Boone made another 3-pointer, followed by an and-one bucket in consecutive possessions to secure at 38-36 halftime lead.
Avila opened up the second half on a 5-0 run to go up by seven–its largest lead of the game, forcing Bethany coach, Dan O’Dowd to call a timeout two minutes in to the half.
With the Swedes behind and Boone and the Eagles heating up, Bethany turned to its top-scorer, Justin Jones. Jones heated up in the half to keep BC close.
Although Jones was keeping Bethany in the game, Avila seemed to have an answer for each Bethany run until the final two minutes of the game with Avila leading 73-69.
The Swedes had battled all half but never were able to tie the game-let alone have the lead. That changed when Jones made a 3-point shot to pull BC within one. After a stop on defense, Bethany’s Dylan Smith glided in to the lane to give the Swedes its first lead of the second half with a little more than 90 seconds remaining.
Bethany would not relinquish the lead as the Swedes held Avila to just 34% shooting on the night. While Boone went off, his teammates struggled to pick up the slack.
Meanwhile, Bethany had one of its best performances from the foul stripe on the year. BC went 13-17 from the free-throw line to keep Avila at arm’s length. A Jordan Matthews 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short and Bethany was able to secure its first win in over a month.
Avila (6-7, 5-4 KCAC) never seemed comfortable on the offensive side of the ball on Saturday. Boone led the way with 34 points. Brandon Phillips had 14 points and Eric Smith, Jr. scored 11.
Bethany (6-7, 2-7 KCAC) ended its seven game losing streak. Bethany’s 6-0 run down by four ultimately helped win the game for Bethany. Jones scored 27 points, Saenz had 15 and Milton Massey finished with 12 points.
The game was the final league game for Bethany in 2019. They’ll return to regulation action in the new year.
Bethany Women 55, Avila 51
Last season, Avila gave the Bethany women’s basketball team fits. So Saturday’s game in Lindsborg was big one for the Swedes who entered the game tied for fifth in the KCAC, but just one game back of Avila-who was tied for second.
However, like their previous games, Bethany started out the day by getting behind as the Swedes struggled to make shots early.
Avila took a 16-8 lead after one, however, Bethany was able to trim in to the lead in the second quarter and only trailed 26-23 at halftime.
Bethany continued to dwindle the lead down in the third quarter before they finally tied the game up at 40-40 to end the third quarter.
The Swedes, led by Lauren Welsch, snatched the lead and never looked back. Bethany played phenomenal defense on an Avila team that came in averaging over 70 PPG, but was held to nearly 20 points below its average on Saturday.
Bethany would hit some crucial free-throws come away with its third-straight win.
Avila (6-5, 6-3 KCAC) shot just 38% from the floor for the game. Taylor Faulkner scored the most points for Avila with 15. Paige Bunn added in 12–well below her average.
Bethany (9-5, 6-3) was out-rebounded by 14 on Saturday, however, forced 24 turnovers. Welsch scored a new season-best 19 points in the win, while Halei Wortham tallied in 14 points.
Both Bethany teams come back in the new year at Southwestern. Those games can be heard on Salina radio station, 95.5 The Rock.