LINDSBORG — The Bethany College men made the great escape Saturday night at Hahn Gym.
The Swedes trailed Saint Mary by nine points with 3:23 left to play, but an 18-6 run to close out the game gave them a desperately needed 80-77 victory to remain a half-game back of KCAC leader Sterling.
Bethany and Friends are both 11-3 in the KCAC, while Sterling is 11-2 with a makeup game still to play against Tabor.
The Swede victory also all but assured Saint Mary of not repeating as KCAC champion as the Spires are now 9-5 with four games left to play.
Saint Mary led by as many as five, 76-71, with 1:17 to play, but the Swedes roared down the stretch, led by Kirby Hawkins. With the game tied at 76, Nathan Coleman made two free throws for a 78-76 Bethany lead and after Shiron Williams made 1 of 2 free throws with 2 seconds left for Saint Mary, Hawkins made a pair of free throws for the final margin.
Idris IbnIdris led Bethany with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Hawkins scored 18 and Dwight Abad chipped in with 15.
Grant Greenberg scored 30 to lead Saint Mary.
The Swedes improved to 18-7 overall and have a huge showdown coming up on Thursday with Friends, with the loser falling back to third place.
• BETHANY WOMEN 65, SAINT MARY 57 — Bethany sprinted to a 28-9 lead and led 36-22 at the half before Saint Mary waged a furious rally that pulled it within one, but the rally eventually ran out of steam.
Ashley Carey led Bethany with 16 points, while Alex Brammer and Kendra Austin added 13 points and Kyleigh Rees tallied 11, as the Swedes are now 2-12 in the KCAC and tied with Saint Mary for ninth place. Bethany is 4-22 overall and has no bargain Thursday when Friends comes to town.