Men's Basketball

Pilots drop conference home opener to Maple Leafs 88-81

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It was quite a night in the Wiekamp Center Nov. 30, as the Pilot men’s basketball team hosted the Goshen Maple Leafs. Goshen came into the game ranked 16th in the nation and gave the Pilots all they could handle. The Pilot defense kept it close until about midway through the second half when the Maple Leafs took a ten point lead and would not look back. The Pilots nearly closed the gap to within five points but would eventually fall by a score of 88-81. It was very cold shooting for the Pilots in the first half, as they were unable to knock down any shots beyond the arc. Nevertheless, they were able to keep the score at 38-31. The Maple Leafs came out ready to handle the strong Bethel press in the second half and stretched their lead to double digits with 14:28 remaining. From there, the lead continued to climb and Goshen continued to feel more confident shooting from long range. Just when the game appeared to be getting out of hand, everything started falling Bethel’s way. Goshen became in desperate foul trouble and was forced to go deep into their lineup. Meanwhile, the Pilot offense was able to finally find their touch from three point range. With less than six minutes remaining in the game, a Goshen player was called for a technical foul and that was all the Wiekamp Wackos needed to get back into the game and become a significant force. The Wackos were dressed in their red, white, and blue attire and led by senior Robby Burns. Ryan Benner cashed in a late and-one opportunity with less than five minutes remaining, but the Maple Leafs continued to knock down free throws and forced a couple of key turnovers late in the game to escape with a seven point victory. With injuries plaguing the Pilots again this year, Bethel was forced to go with a yet another starting lineup. Ryan Benner seemed to be feeling healthy on his injured knee as he was able to play over 31 minutes and score 23 points. Zach Miller was another impact player for the Pilots with 20 points, while Matt Schauss put up 13. Nick Lewis was strong off the bench as he scored 10 points and collected two steals. This was a tough loss for Bethel as they were nearly able to sneak back into the game and force overtime. Nonetheless, they will now look to regroup and prepare for Dec. 3, when they travel to Taylor University to take on the Trojans. With this loss, the Pilots are now 1-1 in the MCC and 7-2 overall.
Despite poor shooting throughout the game and only four shots hit from beyond the arc by Bethel, Ryan Benner tried to rally the troops with two late threes and a 23 point effort. (photo by Jeff Welsh)
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