Columbia tied the game at 38 less than two minutes into the third quarter, but Bethlehem went on a 19-9 run after that to take a 57-47 lead. Matt Branigan came up big after replacing John Drazan, who picked up his third foul early in the third quarter. Branigan scored nine of Bethlehem's points during its spurt, while Muncil contributed six points.
"Matt has earned his place," Irons said of Branigan, who finished with 16 points off the bench. "He has been playing well since our Christmas tournament at Proctor, and we've been trying to get him more minutes. He proved tonight that he deserves more minutes. I thought he did a really nice job."
Bethlehem built its lead to 15 points in the fourth quarter and never looked back in beating Columbia.
"I think it was a good experience for us, knowing we can win close games," Irons said.
Kane finished with a team-high 20 points, including a pair of three-pointers.
"We looked at his statistics in the locker room and said he didn't have a Joe Kane night. It was an off night for Joe, and he's going to have an off night once in a while. We just have to ride that out," Irons said of his versatile star. "That's an average night for most guys."
The Eagles' next test comes against Mohonasen this week.
"We're not looking past Mohonasen for a second. We have a week to prepare, and that's what we'll be doing," Irons said.""