Bethel, Benner Blister Rival Grace 110-69

Bethel, Benner Blister Rival Grace 110-69
Created 1/5/2014 11:02:16 AM

Winona Lake, Indiana – There is no rivalry in small-college basketball quite like Bethel and Grace. Since the first meeting back in 1960 these two institutions were deadlocked at 60 wins a piece going into the 121st meeting Saturday afternoon on the campus of Grace College.

Ryan Benner would continue his hot shooting pouring in a game-high 37 points for the No. 5 ranked Pilots as they defeated the Lancers 110-69. It would be the largest margin of victory over Grace in Bethel history (41 points) breaking the previous record held back on January 5, 1999 where BC won 106-68 (38 points). Benner would go 11-for-12 from the field and a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range in the victory. In his last three contests the 6-4 senior is averaging 29.7 points per game.

"Ryan (Benner) got us off to another great start," said Head Coach Mike Lightfoot, who picked up career-win 698. "I thought we had a lot of great looks offensively and knocked them down. I wasn't happy with our effort defensively in the first half, but we really responded in the second and made it difficult for them (Grace) to score."

Bethel (14-2, 3-1) allowed the Lancers (8-7, 0-4) to shoot 50 percent from the field (16-for-32) in the opening stanza before clamping down defensively to allow the hosts to only 24 second half points on 8-of 29 shooting (28 percent).

On the opposite end the Pilots would shoot 65 percent from the field including a scorching 71 percent in the second half.

The combination of great shooting and great defense would ultimately be the storyline for Bethel as the Pilots scored 60 points in the second half.

Just 40 seconds into the second act Grace's Greg Miller would knock down a free throw to bring the Lancers to within six (52-46). That's when the Pilots used a dominating 39-5 run to break the game wide open thanks to 12 points from Benner and eight from Zach Millerduring the stretch to help push Bethel's lead to as many as 43 points. Miller would end the game with 19 points including four trifecta's.

Bethel also saw great minutes from their bench as BC outscored the Grace reserves 37-25 led by freshman Caleb Oetjen's 13 points. Senior guard Landon Booker provided another solid effort off the bench with 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. FreshmanRyan Wassink continued his great play with nine points, eight rebounds, one block and one steal.

The Pilots will return home for the first time in 2014 as they take on No. 16 University of Saint Francis on Tuesday, January 7 in a crucial Crossroads League matchup. Tipoff is set for 7:00pm.

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