There may be no player in the KCAC who has a greener light than Bethel College’s Adam Arciniega.
The 6-7 senior forward — the nation’s No. 4 scorer — suffered through a miserable 1-of-9 shooting performance in the first half here Monday against Central Christian College, one reason the Threshers found themselves down 12 points.
But Arciniega, who sat out last season after being a star two years ago, kept on firing until he reached a zone seldom seen.
The capper came with 1.2 seconds to go when he drove the lane for the winning shot in a 68-67 victory, avenging an earlier 72-70 loss to the Tigers. He finished the final 20 minutes making 12-of-16 shots.
Bethel, which lost all 27 of its games last year, has now won four in a row and takes a 6-5 record into KCAC play under first-year coach Tony Hoops.
All Central coach Tony Romero could do was tip his cap to the slender Arciniega, who made the shot over a cluster of Tiger defenders.
“The guy made baskets,” said Romero, whose team surrendered 27 second-half points to the potential All-American and he finished with 29 overall. “We guarded him pretty tough for a while. He made some baskets, he’s a player.”
The Tigers will look back at this one, though, as a night of missed opportunities. They made only 4 of 10 second-half free throws and didn’t put the Threshers away after being up as many as 19 in the first half and still were up by 15 with 15 minutes to go.
“Last time we played them we were 17 of 34 (at the line),” Romero said. “We played an exhibition game (against Southern Nazarene) and missed 20 free throws... I don’t know what it is. We’re shooting them in practice and we’re making them. Get out here and we’re not making them.”
The Tigers came out white-hot, making five 3-pointers in the first five minutes to lead 21-6 and the lead later grew to 32-13. But Bethel went on a 12-1 run to get back in it and trailed 37-25 at the half.
Once the lead reached 49-34, Arciniega went to work. He remarkably scored 25 of Bethel’s final 30 points, including the last 12 and 17 of the last 19.
With the score 67-66 in favor of Central, the Threshers were working for the go-ahead basket, but the Tigers’ Daniel Nwosuh came up with a steal and was fouled with 19 seconds left. But he missed the front end of the bonus and the Threshers worked the ball for the final shot. Arciniega weaved his way and threw up a tough shot that nestled into the net and sent the Tigers to only their second loss in nine games.
Michael Gholston led Central with 15 points and Alonzo Stafford added 11. What little help Ariciniega needed came from Rodney Hill, who scored 11.
Central is staying busy as tonight it plays an exhibition game at powerful Drury University before going to Manhattan Christian on Thursday.
CCC (67) — Stafford 11, Quincy 6, Nwosuh 8, Gholston 15, Rojas 7, Jackson 7, Burton 7, Clayborn 2, LeBlanc 2, Adams 2.
Bethel (68) — Alford 8, Hill 11, Kingsley 5, Arciniega 29, Packard 6, Huber 2, Cape 2, Long 2, Miller 3.