FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Opportunity kept knocking for the University of Saint Francis, but the 16th-ranked Cougars just couldn't answer the door often enough allowing Bethel College to escape with a 65-62 win on Saturday afternoon.
Combined with a Spring Arbor University win at third-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University on Saturday, the Pilots win vaulted them into first place alone in the Crossroads League with a 5-0 record while the Cougars tumbled to into fifth place at 3-2. IWU, Grace and Taylor are tied for second place at 4-1.
Fortunately for USF, which has dropped four of its last five games, there are still 13 games to play in the CL.
Josh Hogan came off the bench to score 16 points for USF, 10 in the second half, and Scott Kohne did post his 10th double double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ethan Hussey scored 13 points, but in the second half when the game was up for grabs, BC got the last grab holding off the Cougars.
"Instead of settling for jumpers, after missing a couple 3s, Josh started attackin' the basket," USF Head Coach Chad LaCross said. "That's what we need out of some of the other guys. When the perimeter shot won't fall, we need to attack the basket more and make teams defend and get reverses and get the ball inside more. I thought we could have gotten the ball inside more than we did."
BC shot .520 in the second half hitting 13-of-25 shots. The Pilots connected on 2-of-3 shots from 3-point range in the second half and were 6-for-10 shooting from the free-throw line to win for the 13th time in their last 14 games. USF hit just 1-of-17 shots from 3-point range in the second half and overall the Cougars were 13-for-38 shooting (.342). USF hit 6-of-10 shots from the free-throw line in the final 20 minutes, 11-of-19 for the game, a .579 shooting percentage.
"I was pleased with the way we defended and the way we got back in transition pretty well and didn't give them many easy baskets," LaCross continued. "That was one of our keys that I was pretty please with. To shoot what we shot and still have an opportunity at the end says a lot about our guys. They work hard and defend well. Right now the defensive side is what is keepin' us in games. So we need to keep playin' good defense and work more on execution on the offensive end and be smart about what we are lookin' for."
BC only got two players into double-figure scoring -- Matt Schauss leading the Pilots with 13 and Michael Mislan scoring 10 off the bench. BC did have 10 of the 11 Pilots who played scored at least two points.
The second half was like watching an 8-year-old boy learn how to master a yo-yo. The Cougars never led and after hanging within 1, 2, 3, 1, and 3 points, the Pilots stretched the lead to 7, 5, 6, 5, then 8 points, 58-50 with 4:25 to play. At 3:03 to play in the game, Jordyn Coon scored for a 62-53 BC lead. The Cougars clawed back slashing the deficit to 64-60 when Kohne hit the first of two free throws with 31 seconds to play. He missed the second free throw, but Zach Miller missed the front of a 1-and-bonus free throw with 19 seconds to play. Seth small missed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play and Schauss hit the first free throw, missed the second with 11 seconds to play.
Hogan missed a 3-pointer, Hussey missed a 3-pointer and Hogan scored from the paint, but time ran on the USF comeback quest.
Both teams held leads in the first half, USF by four, 14-10 with 12:09 to play, and BC by three, 21-18, with 7:57 to play. There were nine ties in the first 20 minutes and four lead changes, but the game was never tied again after Ryan Benner stole the ball near midcourt from USF's Jordan Hahn, and scored on a layup with three seconds to play. Benner's score put BC in front 31-29. The Pilots led at halftime despite shooting 36
BC ended a four-game losing streak in the series with USF and leads 43-35. USF beat BC 108-72 in the last meeting between the two schools on Feb. 4, 2012.
USF resumes play on Tuesday with a 7 p.m. game at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It is the first of three games next week for USF and is a women's-men's doubleheader. On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Cougars will play at Marian University in Indianapolis, and on Saturday USF plays Grace College at 3 p.m., part of another women's-men's twin bill at HAC.
USF women lose on road to Bethel
Trailing by 16 late in the first half, seventh-ranked University of Saint Francis rallied at 16th-ranked Bethel College to take a four-point lead, but the Pilots prevailed in overtime 80-71 on Saturday afternoon.
The defeat dropped USF (15-2) to 4-1 in Crossroads League play and into a tie with BC for second place behind league-leading Indiana Wesleyan University (17-0, 5-0 CL).
Kayla Drake scored 20 points for USF, Jenelle Wilson 16, Skylarr Shurn 13 and Brooke Ridley 11 (before fouling out). Ridley also led USF rebounding with eight and blocked five shots before leaving the game with 51 seconds to