Bulldogs win 3 of last 5; Ward named national player of the week

Communications Staff — February 17, 2009

Five wins and 14 losses might not appear to be much of a cause for celebration in the college basketball world, but for the Boyce College Bulldogs two other numbers make that record far more encouraging: three out of five.

With a 69-43 victory over Dayspring Bible College Feb. 12, the Bulldogs have won three of their last five contests after beginning the season with two wins in 14 games. Best of all, Boyce got a home win in front of a capacity crowd on Feb. 10, handily beating Fairview Baptist 78-45.

First-year coach Jed Coppenger says the wins are indicative of a team that is maturing both on and off the court.

“The team understands that their approach to basketball matters to King Jesus,” Coppenger said. “Knowledge that Jesus cares about the attitudes, effort, etc. that they put forth on the court provides the kind of context needed for improvement. If we weren’t improving, that wouldn’t just reflect poorly on them as basketball players. They understand that it would be saying something about their love of Christ.

“The team has improved because they have been teachable. You can work hard and not get better. All you have to do is think you know everything. These guys haven’t act this way. They take our instruction and make the adjustments needed. The upperclassmen leadership has been critical as well.”

One obvious factor in Boyce’s recent success has been the play of sophomore Ben Ward, who leads the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association Division II in scoring with more than 27 points per game.

A 6-foot-3 inch forward, Ward poured in 54 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in an 85-69 win over Appalachian Bible College, Jan. 23. In the victory over Fairhaven, he scored 36 with 14 rebounds. During the week of Feb. 11, Ward received player of the week honors for NCCAA Division II.

Along with senior team captain Jeff Pearson, who hit seven three pointers and scored 27 against Fairhaven, Ward has energized Boyce’s offense. Coppenger said the better Ward’s numbers have been, the more unassuming his attitude has grown.

“I don’t care what level you play on, if you consistently score more than 30 points (many times in the forties) and don’t get so impressed with yourself that you lose your focus, it is pretty unexpected,” Coppenger said.

“Most guys play well until they realize what they’re doing. Then their head gets so big they can’t do anything. So the fact that Ben continues to carry himself in humility even in light of his great accomplishments reveals a Gospel maturity that you hardly ever see.”

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