WICHITA — Bethany College’s Ibin IbnIdris won the battle, but Friends’ Joe Mitchell and his Falcon teammates won the war.
IbnIdris outscored Mitchell 39-36 in a matchup of two of the top four scorers in the country Saturday night, but Mitchell’s supporting cast proved to be much stronger in a 100-82 victory in a battle of undefeated KCAC co-leaders.
Friends, which entered this week ranked No. 19 in the country, took over sole possession of first place with a 6-0 record, while Bethany was tagged with its first conference loss to drop to 5-1.
Mitchell, the nation’s leading scorer at 32.5, was about more than just points, as he pulled down eight rebounds and found his teammates open six times for assists. He snaked his way inside the lane to the tune of shooting 19 free throws, making 17.
IbnIdris, who is fourth in nation in scoring at nearly 28 a game, also filled up the stat sheet with six rebounds and six assists. He was 15 of 23 from the field.
Sharpshooting Zach Nelson poured in 22 points for the Falcons, while rugged Anthony White ruled the glass with 11 rebounds to complete his double-double as he scored 11 points, along with Brett Williams. The Falcons shot it well all night, including 28 of 35 from the foul line.
Bethany coach Clair Oleen fumed about his team’s lack of toughness on defense.
“We are a very poor defensive team right now," Oleen said. "Until that changes, we are just pretenders and not actually contenders for a conference title.”
Kirby Hawkins scored 19 points for the Swedes and Dwight Abad added 10.
The loss dropped the Swedes to 12-5 overall and they play their two arch-rivals next week, going to Kansas Wesleyan on Thursday and hosting McPherson College on Saturday.
• FRIENDS WOMEN 67, BETHANY 41 — The Falcons are the most physical team in the KCAC on the defensive end.
The Swedes needed a late rush just to get to 41 points, after they had scored only 11 in the first half.
“The game was decided in the first half when we went 3 of 26 from the field," Bethany coach Brett Morehouse said. "Although a lot of credit goes to Friends and their defense, we missed a lot of easy looks that could have kept us within striking distance. I was happy with the rebounding and overall effort, but we have to get back to work next week and get better all the way around.”
Bethany lost for the 15th straight time and is now 2-16 overall, 0-6 and in last place in the KCAC.
Kaitlyn Norton scored 10 points to lead the Swedes. Sarah Munds led Friends with 14, as the 5-1 Falcons stayed hot on the heels of KCAC-leading Southwestern, which is 6-0.