LEAVENWORTH — It was a week to forget for the Bethany College men’s basketball team.
After winning five of their first six KCAC games, the Swedes suffered their second loss in 72 hours on Saturday as they struggled offensively in a 79-62 setback to Saint Mary.
The only good to come out of the day is that they didn’t lose ground, as KCAC leader Tabor was upset by Sterling. Five teams are now a game apart, with Friends and Tabor on top at 6-2, with Bethany, Southwestern and Saint Mary a game back at 5-3.
There’s no question the Swedes are a different team without Gary Jones, who has been sidelined indefinitely with an academic question. And with Cody Harris going just 3 of 16, the Swedes were more than 20 points under their season average.
It was a 40-35 game at the half as the Swedes were still in it, but they managed only 27 points in the second half.
Larry McLin and Jonathan Gidson led the Swedes with 20 and 16 points, respectively. Bethany dropped to 13-6 overall.
Saint Mary All-American Grant Greenberg was as good as advertised with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Thomas added 18 points and Forrest Hicks scored 12.
“It has been a week of not playing well,” Bethany coach Clair Oleen said. “We have to get back to aggressive patience offensively, executing our stuff and sharing the ball like we were prior to this week. We have not been responding to our offensive struggles with mental toughness. Thus our defensive intensity goes south as well. When we struggle, we have got to be tougher and respond with greater intensity and work ethic, giving our teammates energy rather than zapping it from them. This is a great formula for success in life as well as on the basketball court. I thoroughly expect this team to pass this midseason test, circle the wagons, band together, hold ourselves accountable and get the job done the Bethany way."
The Swedes host Sterling on Wednesday. After starting 0-4 in the KCAC, the Warriors have won their last three.
Bethany (62) — McLin 20, Harris 9, Smith 4, Coleman 3, Huskey 3, Gidson 16, Peterson 5, Cooley 2.
Saint Mary (79) — Greenberg 27, Thomas 18, Hicks 12, Young 8, Mondaine 2, Griffin 8, Clark 2, McKay 2.
• SAINT MARY WOMEN 65, BETHANY 44 — It was thought to be a winnable game for the Swedes since Saint Mary had only one KCAC triumph, but the Spires rolled to the easy victory as the Swedes are now 0-8 in the KCAC and 1-19 overall.
Saint Mary led 36-23 and piled it on in the second half.
Royce Shields scored 15 points for BC, which shot only 14 of 55 from the field. Imani Dixon led Saint Mary with 19 points.
The Swedes host Sterling on Wednesday.
Bethany (44) — Shields 15, Davis 6, Shetlar 3, Ahaneku 2, Cleveland 5, Davis 5, Jackson 4, Gamboa 2, Bledsoe 2.
Saint Mary (65) — Dixon 19, Switzer 14, Emde 12, Palmer 7, Marusak 6, Hinkle 2, Roberts 2, Williams 2, Frantz 1.