The Bethel College Pilots faced the Bruins of Bellevue University on Saturday night in the NAIA Division II quarterfinals, and fell short in a 77-75 loss in overtime.
The Pilots started the game off strong going on a quick 9-3 run in the first two minutes of the game, but the Bruins responded with two quick triples from deep to knot things up at 12 apiece. The Pilots once again tried to break away, gaining a nine-point lead with 10:49 left to play in the game, however, the Bruins responded again by cutting the lead to one with 6:27 left to play in the half. The Pilots made one more slight run and headed into the locker room with a six-point advantage (38-32).
During the first half, the Pilots shot 57 percent from the field, connecting on 15-of-26 attempts while going 6-of-10 from behind the arc. The Bruins headed into halftime shooting 44 percent from the field going 13-29, including 6 of-15 from behind the three-point line.
The Pilots came out of halftime with a purpose, extending their lead to 15 in the first minute and a half in the second half (47-32), but once again the tenacity of the Bruins and sharp shooting kept them in the game. With 8:16 left to play in the game the Bruins retook the lead. From then on both teams traded buckets, with each team unwilling to give up ground. With 31 seconds left to go in regulation the Pilots found themselves down by two, but a good floater by senior Clay Yeo tied things up, and the Pilots and Bruins headed into overtime.
In overtime, the Pilots were the first to score, but the Bruins responded with a bucket of their own. With 2:09 left to play in the game the Pilots were down by three. Yeo cut the Bruins lead to one with a good two-point bucket inside. With 33 seconds left to play in the game, the Pilots found themselves again down by one. The Pilots looked to Yeo, who got fouled on a shot attempt and headed to the line for two shots. Yeo connected on 1-of-2 to knot things at 75. With 7 seconds left the Bruins got the ball inside where forward Jalen Hall connected on a two-point bucket in the paint to take a 2-point lead. The Pilots quickly called timeout and with 4.4 seconds left Yeo passed the ball inbounds and got it right back for a three-point opportunity, but fell short as the Bruins squeaked away with a 2-point victory.
The Pilots struggled from the field in the second half, shooting just 36 percent from the field going 13-of-36, and just 27 percent from behind the arc, connecting on just 2-of-7 attempts. Yeo finished the night with 20 points for the Pilots, going 8-of-22 from the field. Senior Jordyn Coon finished his night with 18 points and five rebounds. Junior Gage Ott finished the night with a double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and senior Nick Kindig finished the night with 10 points.
The Pilots finished the season with a record of 31-5. After 30 years at the helm of the Bethel College Pilots, Head Coach Mike Lightfoot says goodbye with an overall record of 794-285. The 2016-2017 seniors leave after a career record of 110-30. The Pilots say goodbye to five seniors: Coon, Kindig, Ryan Wassink, Caleb Oetjen, and Yeo.
The Bethel College Pilots compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. While accumulating 3 NAIA National Championships and 32 NCCAA National Championships by 10 different athletic teams, Bethel has also produced 143 NAIA All-American honors and 309 NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors over the past decade. Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees in more than 70 areas of study. Connect with Bethel Athletics online at BethelCollegePilots.com or via Facebook (Facebook.com/BethelPilots), Twitter (Twitter.com/Bethel_Sports & @Bethel_Sports) and Instagram (@BethelPilots).