The men’s basketball team lost their first game of the season in dramatic fashion last Friday to Olivet Nazarene during the first day of the Pepsi Challenge hosted by Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa; nevertheless the young team was able to collect themselves and defeat a talented Cardinal Stritch team the next day, making them 1-1 on the weekend. The Pilots played the Tigers of Olivet very competitively in the opening round as they fell short by a score of 66-64. Bethel began the game with a 14-4 run and led at halftime by a score of 32-31. However, the Tigers proved to be very impressive in the second half as they went on an 11-0 run to open the half and take a ten point lead. From there, the Pilots slowly climbed back into the game and found themselves down 65-62 with 55 seconds left. After a put-back by sophomore Landon Booker and a missed free throw by the Tigers, the Pilots had a shot to win the game with senior Caleb Laideg’s 35-foot runner but it missed off the front end of the rim. Though Bethel suffered a tough loss to their rivals from Bourbonnais, Illinois, several of the Pilots had solid performances. Laideg led the team in scoring with 14 points as Joe Welch followed closely behind with 11. Sophomore Jordan Bowerman and Booker each contributed 10 points as well. The next day, the Pilots were able to bounce back and dig deep as they beat a very talented Cardinal Stritch team by a score of 75-65. Freshman Ryan Benner had a huge day as he led the Pilots with a double-double performance. Benner was able to put up 23 points and gather 11 rebounds. Bowerman, Laideg, and senior Joe Welch each had significant contributions as well with 10 points each.