MISHAWAKA, Ind. – The Bethel College Pilot men’s basketball team trailed by nine points with just over nine minutes remaining and outscored the No. 3 team in the nation 27-10 down the stretch to score the upset over the St. Francis Cougars, powered by senior Gage Ott‘s game-high 31 points on Senior Day.
- Score: Bethel def. St. Francis 76-68
- Records: Bethel (22-8, 11-7) | St. Francis (23-7, 13-5)
- NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll: Bethel – No. 16 | St. Francis – No. 3
- Location: Wiekamp Athletic Center | Bethel College | Mishawaka, Ind.
- Gage Ott: 31 pts, 6 reb, 11-12 ft
- Trey’von Covington: 22 pts, 3 ast, 5-7 3fg
- Paul Forman: 10 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast
- Tanner Shepherd: 7 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
- The Pilots secured the third seed in the Crossroads League tournament quarterfinals with the victory and will match up against Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday.
- The Pilots opened up the game on a 19-5 run to take a commanding lead with 13:41 remaining. The Cougars responded with a 22-2 run spanning the final five minutes of the first half and three and a half minutes of the second half to turn a 31-20 deficit into a 42-33 lead with 16:36 remaining.
- Gage Ott notched the fifth 30-point game of his career, and third this season. The Pilots are 4-1 when Ott scored 30 or more.
- The Pilots celebrated Senior Day for the careers of Ott, Tanner Shepherd, Will Stueve, and Kyle Thompson. The seniors notched their 104thcareer win, the sixth-most in the NAIA Division II since their careers begin in 2014-15. It was also their 51st career Crossroads League win since the start of 2014-15, trailing only Indiana Wesleyan and St. Francis.
COACH LIGHTFOOT SAYS
- “What a way to send out our senior class. Today was about them. Our guys showed what that class is all about: toughness and grit. Proud of their effort and resolve that they played with today. We want to be a team that is capable of making a run in March. Being able to show up and play the way we did today against a caliber of team like USF says a lot about our group moving forward.”
NEXT TIME OUT
- The Pilots will open the Crossroads League tournament as the No. 3 seed on Wednesday, February 21 with a 7pm matchup against 6-seed Mt. Vernon Nazarene (Ohio) in the Wiekamp Athletic Center. The Cougars have beaten the Pilots twice already this season, including a 77-73 overtime win in Mishawaka on January 18. The last time the Pilots lost three times to a single opponent in the same season was three losses to Indiana Wesleyan in 2015-16.
- For the complete Crossroads League men’s basketball tournament bracket, go here.