SALINA — The Bethany College men are halfway through Rivalry Week successfully.
The Swedes’ offense was surprisingly held in check Thursday night against arch-rival Kansas Wesleyan, but their defense was the best it’s been in a long time to key a 71-63 victory.
The Swedes, who normally race to 90 points a game, struggled offensively against the inspired Coyotes, but they finally played the “Hard 40” defense that coach Clair Oleen often preaches.
Jordan Bieberle scored 21 points to lead the Swedes and nailed the game down by cashing in six straight free throws in the final 40 seconds as they could never quite pull away.
Idris IbnIdris was held 15 points under his average as he finished with 12 for the Swedes. He picked up two early fouls, which limited his minutes. Kirby Hawkins came off the bench with 11 and Nathan Coleman scored 10.
Brock Borovetz led KW with 13.
The Swedes, now 6-1 in the KCAC and 13-5 overall, host their other big rival, intracounty McPherson College, at 7 p.m. Saturday.
• KANSAS WESLEYAN WOMEN 72, BETHANY 41 — The Swedes fell to 0-7 in the KCAC and 2-17 overall after their 16th straight loss.
A 12-0 run midway through the first half broke the game open and the Coyotes continually built their lead.
Alex Brammer led the Swedes with 10 points. Alecia Smith, the reigning KCAC Player of the Week, scored 22 for KW and completed a double-double with 11 rebounds.
The Swedes have a golden opportunity to end their skid Saturday as McPherson College comes into the 5 p.m. game having lost six in a row.