Dakota Foster had the hot hand on back-to-back nights. The second one led to a 76-69 win over KCAC newcomer Avila Tuesday night at Thresher Gym.
Foster finished with 25 points, hitting nine of 16 from the field and six of eight from 3-point range. He scored 27 Saturday in an overtime loss to York.
“We’re just going offensively,” said Foster, a junior from Moore, Okla. “I was just getting to my spots and my teammates are making good practices. We did a good job of running back door. It’s all about my teammates. We just stayed together. We practice these situations everyday in practice. We stayed locked it. We made plays down the stretch.”
“He was phenomenal,” Bethel coach Jayson Artaz said. “He was shooting the ball really well. He has a lot of confidence. When the ball starts going in and you’re feeling good about yourself, it just seems to continue. When he first got back from the summer, he was really struggling with his shot. He put in a lot of time on his own. I worked with him. He’s starting to play a lot better.”
The win was the first in conference for first-year head coach Jayson Artaz.
“It was kind of a crazy game,” Artaz said. “The whole way through, it seemed like we’d get an arm’s length away, but we couldn’t put our foot on the throat. It came down to putting enough stops together and getting enough scores. We’d have some turnovers in there or would give up something easy. I was happy we were able to respond each time they could catch up or take the lead.”
Bethel hit 50 percent from the field in the second half, 45 percent for the game. After a slow start from outside, Bethel finished 10 of 23, seven of 11 in the second half.
Bethel went 12 of 24 from the line, five of 13 in the second half.
Avila was 40 percent from the field, including hitting seven of 23 from beyond the arc. The Eagles were 12 of 21 from the line.
Three other players reached double figures scoring for Bethel. Jaylon Scott came off the bench to score 14 points with 10 rebounds. Sam Morgan scored 11 points. Poe Bryant scored 10 points.
“We spread it out pretty good,” Artaz said. “One thing they did was sag off us. We had to make some adjustments and make an emphasis to try and drive and then kick it out to the open man.”
Shandon Boone led 0-5 Avila with 20 points. Daniel Head and Trey Heinrich each scored 12 points.
Bethel jumped out by five, 7-2, but the Eagles took a time out and led by as many as six. A late run put the Threshers up by seven, but a Trey Heinrich trey tied the game with 1:49 in the period. Terrell Marshall put Bethel back up by two with just under a minute left in the half. Bethel held that lead at intermission, 34-32.
A pair of Foster 3-pointers sparked a 6-2 Thresher run. Avila replied with an 8-0 run capped by a Heinrich trey with 15:36 left in regulation.
Bethel trailed by as many as four. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Foster and Greg White put Bethel up by four.
Again Avila came back to tie, followed by two more Foster treys. Layups by Foster and Bryant put Bethel up by eight with 6:21 in regulation. The Eagles quickly cut that advantage to four in under a minute. A Boone trey got Avila within two with 1:49 in regulation. Terrell Marshall countered with a layup. After an Avila miss, Bethel missed a free throw, but got the rebound. The two teams then traded a turnover each. Scott hit one of two free throws with 27.9 seconds left to put Bethel up by five. After a missed layup for Avila, Foster hit two free throws to put the game away.
“It feels good,” Artaz said. “I don’t think anybody is super proud of our performance tonight. We didn’t put together a complete game like we wanted to. In the conference battle, there are going to be three or four games where you’re not playing your best. When you can win those games when you’re not playing your best, that can go a long way in your season. … Finally winning a game where we had a lead late is a big boost for us. I’m hoping this will be a springboard moving forward.”
“We hit a little bit of a rhythm tonight,” Foster said. “This is a big win for us just to get us back on the right track. We have a big exhibition game and a big game against Tabor.”
Bethel plays NCAA Division II Emporia State at 7 p.m. Saturday in an exhibition at White Auditorium. Bethel plays at 8 p.m. Monday at Tabor.
“Tabor is always a good team,” Artaz said. “They are well coached. They are usually pretty athletic. They are going to be a good challenge. The one thing I love about Bethel people is they come out and support us. That’s the biggest game of the season. It’s where we get the best crowd support. Everybody wants to beat Tabor and everybody at Tabor wants to beat Bethel. We’re excited for it. We’ll play some guys who haven’t gotten a lot of minutes against Emporia State and give them some confidence and time on the floor.”
AVILA (0-5, 0-3 KCAC) — Daniel Head 5-6 2-2 12, Byron Cooke 2-9 5-6 9, Josh Benford 2-2 0-2 4, Shandon Boone 7-18 4-4 20, Brandon Phillips 3-8 0-0 6, Trey Heinrich 4-8 0-1 12, Izai Clark 0-0 1-2 1, Carter Wildey 2-6 0-2 5, Gary Long 0-1 0-2 0, Jaylin Dinkins 0-4 0-0 0. TOTALS 25-62 12-21 69.
BETHEL (4-3, 1-2 KCAC) — Trey Sleep 0-0 0-0 0, Poe Bryant 4-11 2-6 10, Dakota Foster 9-15 2-2 26, Terrell Marshall 4-9 1-5 9, Sam Morgan 4-11 0-0 11, Ahmed Fall 0-0 0-0 0, Kiesean Weiher 0-3 3-4 3, Danen Kistner 0-3 0-0 0, Jaylon Scott 5-7 4-7 14, Greg White 1-1 0-0 3. TOTALS 27-60 12-24 76.
Total fouls — AU 22, BC 20. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — AU: Wildey :19.7-2h. 3-point shooting — AU 7-23 (Cooke 0-2, Boone 2-8, Phillips 0-3, Heinrich 4-5, Wildey 1-3, Dinkins 0-2), BC 10-23 (Bryant 0-3, Foster 6-8, Marshall 0-2, Morgan 3-7, Kistner 0-1, Scott 0-1, White 1-1). Rebounds — AU 31 (Benford 6), BC 42 (Scott 10). Assists — AU 11 (Clark 3), BC 11 (Marshall 4). Turnovers — AU 12 (Boone 3), BC 18 (Foster 5). Blocked shots — AU 3 (Clark 2), BC 2 (White 2). Steals — AU 9 (Wildey 3), BC 8 (Marshall 2, Morgan 2, Scott 2).