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BETHANY ADVANCES TO PAC SEMIFINALS AFTER 90-58 VICTORY
Feb. 22 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team closed the first half with a massive 39-5 run to build a big halftime spread and go on to a 90-58 victory over #6 Westminster in the PAC Tournament Quarterfinals Tuesday night at Hummel Field House.
With the victory, BC improves to 19-7 for the year and advances to Thursday’s semifinals at #2 Saint Vincent. The Titans’ season ends with a 7-19 record.
Westminster started the game looking like they could make a run at a big upset. Titan guard Christian Shea cashed in three three-pointers to spark an 18-8 opening run by the visitors through the first six and a half minutes.
Following a nearly three-minute scoreless stretch by both teams, a steal led to a bucket-and-one for Bethany’s Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands), which ignited a titanic surge over the final 10:41. The Bison scored 10 straight to take the lead before the Titans’ went back on top 20-19 on a Doug Smith lay-up. BC then reeled off 21 consecutive points, which included a trio of triples from senior Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lancaster).
The blitz was momentarily interrupted by a Smith trey, but Bethany scored the final seven points of the half to complete the 39-5 run. Junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) hit a pair of jumpers and Mabery put an exclamation point on his 19-point outburst in the opening stanza by draining a trifecta as the halftime horn sounded to send the Bison into the locker room with a 47-23 advantage.
After shooting 58 percent (18-31) in the first half, Bethany was even better in the second half from the floor. They made 65 percent (15-23) of their shots as they continued to pull away and were able to go to their bench early. In all, 11 different players scored and the Green and White set a season-high for shooting percentage (61.1) and posted their highest point total in a PAC Tournament game since beating Washington & Jefferson 90-76 to win the 2008 crown.
Four players tallied double digits in the game, led by Mabery’s season-high 19. Alexander compiled 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, which give him 55 for the year, as he broke the Bethany single-season record of 54 that was set by Jay Lohan in 1992. Also notching double figures was Opalka and sophomore Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski Area) with 10 each.
Sparking the Bison bench, which chipped in with 39 points total, was freshman Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Palotti), who had nine points and seven rebounds, most of which came during the decisive first-half run. Senior Ray Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Livonia Clarenceville) and junior J’Von Watts (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) both scored eight as well.
Leading Westminster in the game was Shea with 14 points.
The Bison will now travel to Saint Vincent for the rubber match with the Bearcats, who moved on with a 72-54 victory over Grove City in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. Saint Vincent won the first match-up between the schools 71-70 at BC Jan. 8 and Bethany picked up the split of the season series with a 65-57 triumph in Latrobe Feb. 9. Tip-off for Thursday’s contest is slated for 7 p.m.