Mount Vernon, Ohio – The Pilots of Bethel College made the long road trip to Mount Vernon Nazarene to continue Crossroads League play and came away with a 95-78 victory.
It was a back-and-forth affair for the first six minutes of action as both teams were knotted at 9-9. That's when Pilot center Michael Mislan came alive. Over the next two Bethel possessions the 6-9 junior scored seven points. His first came from an old-fashioned three-point play at the 13:15 mark. On the ensuing play Mislan took the ball to the basket, scored and was fouled again. He missed the free throw, but grabbed his own rebound and scored to help his team to a 16-11 lead with 12:02 remaining in the opening stanza.
Mislan's inside game helped spark the Pilot outside game as Ryan Benner scorched four straight perimeter shots over the next three minutes to give Bethel a 29-15 lead with just under eight minutes to play.
The Pilots would then put on a shooting clinic to go on a 14-2 run to open up a 43-18 advantage at the 4:45 mark.
Mount Vernon would then go on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 45-28, but the Pilots responded and took a 53-32 lead at intermission.
Ryan Benner led Bethel in scoring with 16 first half points. For the half, BC shot 68.8 percent from the field and 75 percent from the perimeter on 6-8 shooting from downtown.
The second act saw Mount Vernon slowly chip away at the Bethel lead as the hosts trimmed their deficit to 57-44 at the 15:40 mark.
Bethel then returned the favor going up 67-49 on another three-pointer by Ryan Benner.
The Cougars then rattled off the next four points to make it 67-53. Michael Mislan would then get a tip-dunk to ignite the offensive attack and give Bethel a 72-56 lead with 9:47 left to play.
Mount Vernon would play inspired basketball and narrowed the Pilot lead to nine trailing only 72-63 with 8:40 remaining. The BC lead would stay at nine points for the next three minutes.
With just over seven minutes to play the Cougars would claw to within just eight points. The Pilots would then regroup thanks to big baskets from Jordan Bowerman who helped extend the Bethel lead back to 16 at 84-68 with 4:02 left to play. The late run would be too much for the Cougars to overcome as Bethel closed out the game from the free throw line in the final minutes for the 95-78 victory.
The Pilots, who improve to 4-0 and a first-place tie with Indiana Wesleyan in League play, were led by Michael Mislan who came off the bench to pump in 20 points and grab seven rebounds. Jordan Bowerman and Ryan Benner both contributed 19 points while Zach Miller scored 15. Matt Schauss also helped in the effort by chipping in eight points and two assists.
Bethel also won the battle of the boards outrebounding Mount Vernon 44-28.
Jason Dawson led the Cougars with 33 points.
"I thought we played a very solid first half tonight that turned out to be the difference," commented Coach Lightfoot. "It was good to see Michael Mislan really step up when Taylor Kolbus left." (Kolbus left the game to receive stitches in his chin early in the game. "We've had guys step up off the bench and you need that to be successful in this League. I also thought our guys showed some perseverance after being on a bus for 36 of the last 48 hours to play.
BC will continue their Crossroads League road trip as they travel to No. 16 (NAIA D-II) University of Saint Francis on Saturday, January 5 for a 3:00pm tip-off.