Men's Basketball

VIDEO: Miller’s 32 spurs second half surge in Pilots 89-65 win over Andrews

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Yes, it might be cliché, but Wednesday night’s home opener for the Pilots can only be described as a tale of two halves as they erased a two-point halftime deficit on the way to an 89-65 win. The Pilots faced Andrews University in the first game at Gates Gymnasium this season. The Wiekamp Wackos were out in full force, and it was a great atmosphere for a basketball game. But the Cardinals were there to spoil the party. Three quick buckets from behind the arc gave Andrews an early 9-0 lead. The Pilots clawed back and even took the lead 12-11. But for most of the first half, Andrews controlled the game. The Pilots tried to string together a run, but turnovers kept shooting them in the foot.
Zach Miller scored 32 and led the Pilots to an 89-65 victory over Andrews University in the home opener.
Zach Miller scored 32 and led the Pilots to an 89-65 victory over Andrews University in the home opener.
Coach Lightfoot said before the game that the Cardinals’ zone defense could cause problems for the Pilots. Bethel’s offense was able to break the zone pretty well, but they couldn’t take care of the ball. Lightfoot also said that Andrews’ guards were players to watch. They were able to break the Pilots’ press and knock down threes seemingly at will. The combination of Bethel turnovers and hot shooting from the Cardinals made the halftime score 38-36 in favor of Andrews. The Pilots had 10 first half turnovers and allowed the Cardinals to shoot 52 percent from the floor. But Lightfoot must have had some halftime speech! The second half gave Bethel a fresh start, and they certainly capitalized. A 23-12 run to start the second half gave the Pilots a 59-50 lead with just over 15 minutes left in the game. For a while, the Cardinals hung around and wouldn’t let Bethel break things open. But that would only last so long. An alley-oop from Landon Booker to Brandon Gerber pumped up the Wiekamp Wackos and nearly brought the house down. From there it was Zach Miller’s game. The man could not miss, and it spread to his teammates. The Pilots kept pouring it on, mostly from long range. It was too much for the Cardinals to handle, and the Pilots surged to victory. Miller led all scorers with 32 points on 9 of 12 from three point land. Those nine threes set a single-game school record. He also became the 54th Pilot to score 1,000 points in a career. Ryan Benner followed him up with 17 points and led the Pilots with 9 rebounds. Freshman guard Caleb Oetjen also played some big minutes, scoring 11 points on a perfect 4 of 4 from the field. The Pilots shot 60 percent from the field and 90 percent from three in the second half. It was a noticeable improvement from the first half when they shot 40 percent and 30 percent in those categories. As the Pilots were improving, the Cardinals were regressing. They went from 52 percent shooting in the first half to 35 percent in the second half. Once the Pilots got going, it seemed that the Cardinals' spirit had been broken. It was a strong win for the Pilots, but there isn’t much time to celebrate. They play again on Thursday at home against Great Lakes Christian College in the first game of the Gates Automotive Classic.
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