LINDSBORG — Despite 19 points and six assists from Tyler Larkin, the Bethany College men’s basketball team dropped to 0-1 in conference play with a 79-71 loss to Bethel College Wednesday night inside Hahn Gymnasium.
Bethany led by as many as eight midway through the second half, but it was all Bethel College down the stretch. During the final 9:52 of the game, Bethel outscored Bethany 30-14 which included a 16-2 Bethel run that was aided by Bethany going cold offensively.
With the loss, Bethany is now 3-5 on the season and still searching for that first conference win.
“We just kind of lost our composure and confidence,” first-year head coach Dan O’Dowd said. “We didn’t do a very good job of staying in front of the ball. They turned the game around when they started to put their heads down and drive at us.”
Each team held a lead in the first half, but Bethel went into the break with momentum up by six. The Swedes, most notably Larkin, turned it up a notch in the second half.
Down 44-42, Larkin nailed a 3-pointer to give Bethany its first lead since the first half. The ensuing Bethel drive, Larkin used his All-KCAC defensive skills to force a turnover and finish with an easy transition layup.
Larkin jump started a 22-8 run by Bethany out of halftime, but Bethel responded with a 16-2 run that the Swedes never were able to recover from. The Bethel lead was trimmed to 64-62 with 6:10 left, but the Thrashers kept the Swedes at arms length to close out the game.
Larkin led all scorers with 19 points. Isiah Saenz joined Larkin in double figures with 11 points. As a team, Bethany shot 44.6 percent from the field (29-65) and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc (8-26). However, it was the inability to shoot free throws (5-20) that cost Bethany Wednesday night.
“Free throws continue to hurt us,” O’Dowd said. “I think we’ve got some guys that should be good free throw shooters, but we’re not making them.”
Bethany will look for its first conference win this Saturday when they travel to rival Kansas Wesleyan.
Contact Gallagher Martin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel