Bethel Betters Dalton State, 56-53 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bethel Betters Dalton State, 56-53

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DALTON,GA (dsroadrunners.com)---Bethel University, the number 22 team in the NAIA, handed number eight Dalton State the third loss of the season Saturday night. A Mashburn Arena crowd of 2,024 was captivated by two equally matched teams playing to a three point difference, 56-53.
With Bethel's win, the Roadrunners fell to third place in the conference. A Martin Methodist 72-70 victory over Brewton-Parker enabled the Redhawks (19-3 overall, 10-2 SSAC) to move back into first place in the conference. Bethel (18-4 overall, 9-2) moved into second place.
Saturday night's game was close all of the way with the Wildcats scoring first on a three pointer by Caleb Hardy. After the Roadrunners tied the contest at three, they never trailed again before intermission. The largest Dalton lead was seven (19-12). It came on an Anthony Hilliard three with  8:43 remaining in the half. Bethel's Jonathan Williams hit a shot with 2:48 left in the half to provide the final half-time margin of 23-20.
Hardy hit a shot in the paint and Marcus Burnett hit a couple of free throws that gave the Wildcats a 25-24 lead early in the second half. The lead changed hands multiple times before Bethel gained their seven point advantage, BU's largest of the night. They tied several times late: at 47, 48, and 49. The final Roadrunner lead was 51-50 with 1:21 remaining. Dalton State had to foul and Burnett and Cole Nelson each hit two free throws to put Bethel up by five.
The Wildcats kept the Roadrunners from making a three. They fouled freshman Deshawn Ruffin who knocked down three free throws to pull the hosts to within one. Bethel hit a couple of foul shots on the other end with two ticks on the clock to take the 56-53 victory.  
"That's a good basketball team," Coach Tony Ingle said of Bethel after the game. They had moved into the Top-25 earlier in the week at No.22. It was their first time since February 26, 2013. "Nobody really likes getting beat, but it takes a good team to beat us," added the coach. "We held them to 32.3 percent. That's 12 percentage points what they normally shoot from the floor. Their three point shot percentage (25%) is lower what they normally do. Our defense forced 20 turnovers."
"We just could not make a shot," said Ingle. "We had the right players in the right situations taking the right shots and we didn't make 'em. You've get them credit too. Their defense is outstanding and what can you say. Our game plan worked perfect except for shooting the ball and putting the ball in the basket. The three times that we have beaten, we didn't shoot the ball well. We had good shooters in good spots, taking the right shots. Sometimes you don't make 'em and tonight was one of those nights."  
Dalton State's Jordan Bowling had another double-double with 12 points and ten rebounds. Ladaris Green scored six points, but the nation's leading rebounder had 13 boards Saturday. He also had four blocked shots. Anthony Hilliard scored 12, Sean Tate 11 (8-9 from the foul line), and Preston Earle, ten.
Dalton State out rebounded Bethel 50 to 44. The Roadrunners held Bethel senior Caleb Hardy to 11 points and eight rebounds. Hardy came into the game averaging 21.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. Marcus Burnett scored ten and had five rebounds. Jonathan Williams scored nine. Justin Williamson scored and Eddie Green scored seven each  
Dalton State (17-3 overall, 8-2 SSAC) will be traveling for the next three games. The team heads south to Mount Vernon, GA - just south of Macon - on Thursday night for a 7:30 p.m. game with Brewton-Parker then moves on down to Brunswick on Saturday, February 7th, to play College of Coastal Georgia. They go to Due West, SC on Monday, February 9th, to play Erskine College in a non-conference game at 7:00 p.m.
The Roadrunners will return home for games on Thursday and Saturday, February 12th and 14th.  The Birds will host Middle Georgia State on the 12th and Martin Methodist on Valentine's Day. Each of those games will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.

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