LINDSBORG — Bethany College men’s basketball team used a rare five-point play as a springboard Thursday to pull away from Ottawa University for an 87-73 victory over the Braves in Lindsborg.
The win enabled the Swedes to partially break up a logjam in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference race as they took over fifth place at 6-7, 10-11 overall. The Braves, who shared the spot with Bethany coming in, fell into a tie for sixth with Southwestern at 5-8, 8-15 overall.
Both coaches shared the same opinion that the game’s deciding turn came with 5:32 left when Bethany scored five points on one possession.
First, it bumped Bethany up to a 16-point cushion, 78-62, but secondly, the foul whistled was on former Smoky Valley standout Chase Dippel, his fourth, and as a precautionary measure, Braves coach Andy Carrier pulled him for 2:27. By the time he got back on the floor with 3:05 to go, Bethany was still comfortably in front by 14, 80-66.
“When we scored five points on one possession,” Bethany coach Clair Oleen said, “was a huge play. Seth (Nelson) made a really good read and kicked it to Dwight (Abad) for the three and Chase fouled (Sedrick Childress). It was huge because we got another foul on Chase and we scored five points.”
“That was a big turning point, no question about it,” Ottawa coach Andy Carrier said. “That was a huge play, a huge momentum shift. I think we got it back to eight or 10 and had some pretty good looks, but we could never get it to six or seven.”
Bethany’s offense also impressed Carrier, especially the way the Swedes attacked the rim, getting to the line 37 times and hitting 31.
“Bethany shot the three so much better than they did against Tabor and then they spread you out and drive you all the time so they get your defense extended. They’re tough to guard,” Carrier said.
From Oleen’s point of view, the way his team defended was key — especially preventing Dippel from getting comfortable.
Dippel ended up hitting only 2 of 10 from the field and finished with 11 points, four in the second half.
“Well, Chase is going to take his shots,” Oleen said. “He’s a good offensive player and we try to go at him offensively and defensively. We try to get him to handle the ball when they have the ball.
“That can be a factor on a jump shooter. Going at him offensively got him in foul trouble.”
Dippel fouled out with 32 seconds left, but at that point the game had been decided. Ottawa was forced to foul and the Swedes cashed in six straight free throws in the final minute to get the final margin.
With the floor spread, Oleen had his team keep the ball in the hands of three primary players: Abad, Trey Beachum and Idris Idris. The trio was 23 of 28 from the line with Idris stepping up 14 times and finishing with 22 points.
Abad and Beachum each contributed 18.
Sophomore guard Adam Hasty paced the Braves with 15. Zach Brown, Kameron Lindsay, and Stephen Feighny joined Dippel with 11 each.
Bethany turned 16 Ottawa turnovers into 28 points and had a 24-6 advantage in three-point shots.
Bethany 53, Ottawa 43
Bethany held Ottawa to 28 percent shooting from the field, grabbed its third KCAC victory and moved into a seventh-place tie with the Lady Braves in the conference race.
Bethany improves to 3-10 in the KCAC and 4-19 overall, while the Lady Braves dropped to 3-10 and 7-16.
Bethany took an early 6-0 lead behind Tasha Wagoner and trailed only once in the game, 14-13.
Wagoner and Tanya Garner scored baskets around a Kendra Austin 3-pointer early in the second half as Bethany opened a 30-21 advantage.
With 13 minutes left, the Swedes got the margin to double figures for the first time, 32-22, on a Nicole Felker free throw.
Ottawa would get no closer than eight the rest of the way as the Swedes moved out to a pair of 14-point leads, the last (46-32) with 2:15 to go.
Garner led the way for the Swedes with 13 points, while Wagoner finished with 11.
Guard Mikayla Skidmore led Ottawa with 11.
Ottawa plays today at home against Tabor. The women’s game is at 3 p.m. followed by the men at 5 p.m.
Bethany (53) — Felker 9, Wagoner 11, Norton 4, Austin 5, Kerlikoweske 3, Garner 13, Nelson 4, Eddings 4.
Ottawa (43) — Grammer 2, Skidmore 11, Meier 3, McClure 9, Dowell 2, Thomas 3, Buckles 5, Ramsey 8.
Bethany (87) — Mihalcin 5, Ibn Idris 22, Beachum 18, Bieberle 2, Ahlvers 3, Abad 18, Childress 7, Marrero 6, Heald 2, Dodson 4.
Ottawa (73) — Smith 2, Lundry 2, Lindsay 11, Hasty 15, Dippel 11, Brown 11, Falk 2, Rose 6, Feighny 11, Regier 2.