Men's Basketball

Schauss buzzer-beater gives Pilots comeback victory over Marian

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A ferocious comeback in the last minute led by sophomore guard Matt Schauss helped spur the Bethel College men’s basketball team to a 69-68 comeback victory on Saturday, Feb. 16 against Marian University in the final game of the regular season. The Pilots traveled to Indianapolis to play the Knights, who were the only team left standing between the Pilots and a no. 3 seed in the Crossroads League tournament.
Coach Mike Lightfoot talks with his players during the Pilots' 69-68 comeback victory over Marian.
Shedding the usual Bethel blue threads for new charcoal gray jerseys, the Pilots were also trying to shed a three-game losing streak and get off to a fresh start heading into postseason play. The first half was a gritty display of basketball in front of a packed house. Neither team could pull away from the other. Bethel held a 19-17 lead with 8:03 to go in the first half after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Zach Miller tickled the twine, but the Knights owned the rest of the half – stretching their lead to eight at the 1:35 mark. But then Miller scored five straight points to cut the lead to three before a Marian three-pointer with five seconds to go gave the Knights a 35-29 lead at halftime. It wouldn’t be the last time the Pilots would have a surge in the final minutes. The second half saw the same storyline that the Pilots have revisited over and over again during the last few games: the other team builds a large lead early in the second half. The Knights did just that as they capitalized on Bethel turnovers to jump out to a 13-point lead. The Pilots cut the lead down to single-digits for a brief moment before Marian went on another run and opened up their largest lead of the game – 54-40 with 11:24 to go. But that’s when the all-too-familiar storyline for the Pilots changed…slightly. They were able to get right back in the game behind back-to-back threes from Miller and junior guard Ryan Benner. With 5:52 to play, it was a two-point game. It seemed the Pilots were finally going to shake the losing streak and net a comeback victory. But then the wheels fell off. The Knights jumped back out to a 68-59 advantage with 1:41 to play and it seemed like all hope had been lost for a Pilot victory. But the fat lady forgot to take her voice lessons that week. Miller got to the free throw line and calmly knocked down two clutch free throws to make it a seven-point lead for Marian. The Pilots immediately fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and sent the Knights’ sophomore guard Jason Riley to the line for a one-and-one. Brick. Schauss started his late-game heroics by grabbing the rebound and quickly going the other way for a three-point play that made the score 68-64 with 0:44 remaining. Another quick foul sent Knights’ sophomore guard John Goodlow to the line with a chance to cushion their lead. Brick. Noticing a theme yet? If not, then let me help you: in the last few minutes the Knights missed a bunch of free throws and Matt Schauss scored a bunch of points. The trend continued as the Pilots grabbed the rebound and found Schauss at the other end for a huge three-pointer that cut the Marian lead to just one with 0:16 remaining. Once again, the Pilots quickly fouled on the inbounds play. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? This time Marian’s sophomore forward Dwight Cliff went to the line and…yep, you guessed it…missed the first free throw. Bethel senior forward Jordan Bowerman grabbed the rebound and looked up court, quickly finding Schauss. Schauss once again drove the length of the court then pulled up for a jumpshot with the seconds ticking away. Swish. After trailing the entire second half, the Pilots had grabbed the lead on the clutch shot from Schauss. This time the Pilots did not foul on the inbounds and Marian was forced to take a last-second heave which fell short – giving Bethel the 69-68 victory. Miller led the team in scoring with 24 points including six threes. Schauss added 17 points and six rebounds while Benner chipped in 13. Bowerman scored nine points to go along with seven rebounds. Junior center Michael Mislan would come off the bench to add four points and a game-high nine rebounds. The Pilots are now 21-9 overall with a 12-6 record in the Crossroads League. The win means that they will be the no. 3 seed in the upcoming Crossroads League tournament. Action gets underway at 7 pm on Wednesday, Feb. 20 when the Pilots play host to no. 6 Saint Francis.      
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