NORTH NEWTON — The No. 13-ranked Southwestern College men’s basketball team opened the KCAC part of the slate Wednesday night with a 78-73 upset loss at Bethel.
The Builders (4-1, 0-1 KCAC) played in front of a packed house at Bethel.
The Threshers (6-1, 1-0) held the top-ranked Southwestern offense to just 11 points midway through the first half and 25 at halftime. Despite trailing by as many as 12, the Builders shrunk the deficit to 30-25 at the break.
The second half was filled with runs from both sides.
The Builders took their first lead since the opening score on a 3-pointer by Troy Baker less than four minutes into the second half. The Builders stretched their lead to as many as five on three occasions.
Baker finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Trailing 43-38, the Threshers shifted the momentum in their favor with a 21-0 run to lead 59-43 with just more than nine minutes remaining.
After each team traded 3-pointers, the Builders went on a run of their own, tallying 15 straight to pull to within one, 62-61. The stretch was fueled by Baker and Justin Criddle, who combined for more than half of the points in the run. Criddle finished with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists on 8-of-19 shooting.
Andrew Hamm, who finished with 18 points, connected on a 3-pointer inside two minutes to put the Builders up 66-65.
The two teams traded points back and forth before Jaylon Scott scored five straight points to give the Threshers the lead. Scott finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds.
Bethel closed the game fending off a last-minute rally and hit 11 straight free throws, nine by Scott.
The Builders return home at 5 p.m. Saturday to face Ottawa at Stewart Field House. The Braves (6-0, 1-0) opened conference play Wednesday with an 89-87 victory against Oklahoma Wesleyan.