Two huge wins for Bethany cagers

By Steve Sell
January 15, 2016

OTTAWA — It was the best night of the year for Bethany College’s basketball teams, as they swept Ottawa University in games that had to raise a few eyebrows around the KCAC.

The Bethany women, who entered Thursday tied for last place in the KCAC, ended a 13-game Wilson Field House losing streak with a 56-55 upset. The Swedes close the first half of conference play 3-7.

OU was up 28-25 at the half, but the Swedes stormed out to start the second half, outscoring the Lady Braves by 10 in the third quarter. 

Ottawa had a chance to win the game on the final possession, but a 3-pointer wouldn’t go down.

Joleen Chanco continued her lights-out play with 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the Swedes. Paige Schmidt scored 15 points.

“This game was just guts and grit, especially the last possession where it came down to us getting a stop in order to win the game," Bethany coach Brett Morehouse said. "I can't say enough about the overall team effort, whether it was Mel (Melanie D'Amour) or Tehya Peters playing just a couple rotations or Paige and Jo, who rarely came off the court. This is probably the biggest win we've had since taking over because it came on the road against a team that had 13 straight home wins and hadn't lost to a Bethany women's team at home since at least 2002. I'm just really proud of the effort and improvements we have made each day over the last month and a half."

Bethany, which improved to 6-12 overall, hosts arch-rival Kansas Wesleyan on Saturday to kick off the second half of KCAC play.

• BETHANY 83, OTTAWA 80 — Maybe the sleeping giant is waking up.

Bethany, which has slumbered through the first half of the season after being picked to finish in the Top 3, perhaps gave a preview of things to come in the second half of the season with a major upset of the Braves, who fell to 7-3 in KCAC play and are now three games back of conference-leading Tabor.

Bethany appeared headed for yet another loss as it trailed by 15 points in the second half, but made a monster comeback. A 23-8 run pulled the Swedes even and the big basket was a Joey Hambtemariam 3-pointer that gave them the lead for good.

“Down the stretch was Bethany basketball as we all know it," Swede coach Clair Oleen said. "It was all about these young men digging down, coming together and playing like we all know that they can."

Jonathan Gidson scored 19 to lead the Swedes. Gary Jones added 17, and Hambtemariam and Larry McLin scored 16 apiece.

Bethany is now 4-6 in the KCAC and 7-12 overall. The Swedes will be looking to avenge an earlier loss to Kansas Wesleyan when the Coyotes invade Hahn Gym on Saturday.