LINDSBORG — It’s too bad ESPN wasn’t on hand Thursday night at Hahn Gym.
The KCAC showdown between titans Friends and Bethany certainly qualified as an Instant Classic, as the Falcons dealt a blow to the Swedes’ championship hopes with a 111-103 victory and, no, the teams didn’t play several overtimes to crack the century mark.
The Falcons’ Joe Mitchell and the Swedes’ Idris IbnIdris put on a show for the ages. Mitchell, the nation’s leading scorer, poured in 45 points, making 12 of 15 floor shots and 17 of 20 free throws. IbnIdris, right behind Mitchell in scoring nationally, was nearly his equal, torching the Falcons’ defense for 42 points, making 18 of 25 floor shots and added four free throws.
It was racehorse basketball, as the Falcons made 18 of 30 shots in the first half — 9 of 13 from 3-point — while the Swedes were 22 of 36 overall and 9 of 17 from 3. When the smoke cleared, Friends had a 58-55 lead, which is a final score in a lot of games.
The dizzying pace continued in the second half, as Friends finished the game 35 of 58, 15 of 25 from 3-point. The Swedes were 42 of 74, 11 of 29 from beyond the arc.
The difference in the game was the free throw line, where Friends cashed in 26 of 32, while Bethany only had 15 attempts and made just eight.
Friends built a double-digit lead in the second half and fended off every Bethany challenge. The victory improved the Falcons to 12-3 in the KCAC and Bethany fell to 11-4. Sterling still leads the way at 12-2, as it has played one less game.
There actually were other players on the floor other than the two probable first-team All-Americans. Colton Rausch scored 16 for Friends, Anthony White added 14 and Zach Nelson scored 13.
Kirby Hawkins contributed 20 points to the Swedes, while others in doubles were Jordan Bieberle (11) and Vincent Roybal (10).
Bethany is home Saturday to take on Kansas Wesleyan.
• FRIENDS WOMEN 70, BETHANY 39 — The Swedes were no match for Friends, which despite being in second place in the KCAC may be playing the best basketball of any team going right now.
The Falcons’ punishing defense limited the Swedes to 13 of 41 from the field. It was a 33-21 game at the half.
Sarah Munds led Friends with 23 points. Ashley Carey scored 10 for the Swedes, now 2-13 in the KCAC and 4-23 overall.
Bethany takes on Kansas Wesleyan on Saturday.