A game recap of last Friday’s first round of the NCAA basketball tournament against University of Wisconsin – River Falls.
By Godfrey Mpetey | Sports Reporter
The Royals’ men’s basketball team traveled to Rivers Falls, Wisconsin for their first round of NCAA tournament last Friday. Coming into the game, the Falcons were ranked number four in the nation and were awarded the first seed in the West Region. The Royal’s, off the heels of their MIAC Championship victory over St. John’s, were given the eighth seed in their region.
The Falcons had an early advantage going into half, leading 39-29. The Royal’s struck back early in the second, gaining the lead on an 11-2 run headed by senior First team All-Conference guard Trevor Hall. The two teams went back and forth the entire rest of the second half before Bethel took a 68-66 lead with just under two minutes left. With 10 seconds remaining, the Royals led 71-69 and a foul was committed that sent the Falcons to the free throw line for two shots with zeroes on the on the clock. Alex Herink made both shots for UWRF and regulation ended with both teams knotted at 71.
Overtime began and the packed gym watched the Royals gain a four point lead over home team, however the men were unable to sink a pair of pivotal free throws, allowing River Falls to tie the game and forcing a second overtime.
In an intense second OT, the Royals fought for a second round appearance and for their season to last at least one more night. Unfortunately, with 1:42 remaining, Hall fouled out and River Falls went on a 5-0 run. The Royals left everything they had on the floor Friday night but came up just short, losing the game 92-94.
Despite the loss, the Royals’ production on the hardwood showed their efforts. Derek Magnuson led the team in total points and rebounds by posting a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Hall followed behind the big man with 17 points and nine rebounds. Granger Kingland finished with 15 points and three rebounds to conclude his freshman season at Bethel.
For the Falcons, forward Alex Herink led the team with 32 points and 11 rebounds. Alongside Herink, center Garret Pearson scored 29 points and pulled down seven boards to help push the team to the second round.
With the heartbreaking conclusion to the 2016-2017 campaign, the Royals’ say goodbye to seniors Brycen Wojta and Trevor Hall. Wojta and Hall’s contributions to the Royals helped the program amass a 71-37 record over their four year career, best by any class in Bethel basketball history.