Men's Basketball

Poor shooting dooms Pilots, star Benner injures shoulder

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The great poet T.S. Eliot could have written the script for the men’s basketball contest on January 12, 2013, between no. 6 Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and no. 21 Bethel College. It ended not with a bang but a whimper. It definitely started with a bang however. The Wildcats came in as the favorite, but the Pilots entered the game on an 11-game winning streak including a victory over rival Grace College two nights earlier. The Pilots also came in as the leaders in the Crossroads League with a 7-0 record compared to the Wildcats at 6-1. To say this game was hyped barely scratches the surface. The Wiekamp Wackos were out in full force, two Major League pitchers and Bethel alums were on hand and the entire night was dedicated to Stand Up to Cancer.
Head Coach Mike Lightfoot and his players were left shaking their heads after an 81-65 defeat at the hands of Indiana Wesleyan University.
But the no. 6 ranked Wildcats were not fazed at all. They set the tone early by grabbing a quick lead. In the first half, the Pilots simply could not put the ball in the basket; they missed multiple close shots and lacked the stellar three-point shooting they've been accustomed to all season. However, a quick spurt in the final three minutes helped cut the IWU lead from 12 down to five at halftime where the Wildcats led 38-33. Bethel shot just 29 percent from the floor in the first half, so a five point deficit at halftime was something of a miracle. But the Pilots kept the momentum going into the second half and turned their shooting woes into a nylon-ripping frenzy. Big buckets from sophomore guard Matt Schauss tied the game at 48-48 and the Pilots would even grab the lead soon after. But then it all went downhill quicker than an Olympic skier. The Wildcats turned up the heat with their sizzling shooting and buried the Pilots from that point forward. Big run after big run put IWU up 64-53 with 8:43 to go in the game. And believe it or not things got worse from there. The Pilots were simply no match for the Wildcats in the second half and they lost by a final score of 81-65. Despite a few streaks of hot shooting, the Pilots shot a dismal 35 percent from the field for the game. Schauss and fellow sophomore Zach Miller each had 15 points but key missed layups from Schauss were a telling sign of the game’s outcome. Freshman Travis Smith was a major bright spot in an otherwise disappointing game as he scored ten points off of the bench. Indiana Wesleyan’s star center Patrick Hopkins dominated the second half and ended up with a double-double – scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The Wildcats also had three other players score in double digits. But the final score was not even the biggest concern for the Pilots after the game. In the first half, star guard Ryan Benner went down with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return to the game. Benner has had a history of nagging injuries, and Head Coach Mike Lightfoot was cautious about his star player’s status after the game. “His shoulder was out of socket and they put it back in,” Lightfoot said. “Now it’s going to be a process of healing up so that’s not great news.” As for the game itself, Lightfoot and his players were disappointed with their lackluster performance. “I don’t think our team played well tonight,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t think that we made the shots or took care of the ball…we missed a lot of really easy, close shots that we need to hit.” “We didn’t play very well to be honest,” said senior guard Drew Schauss. The Pilots will look to bounce back from the tough loss at home against Huntington University on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7:00 pm.   Below is a link to the postgame interviews with Coach Lightfoot and players.
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