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BETHANY BACK IN FIRST AFTER WINNING OT THRILLER AGAINST W&J
Jan. 21 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Freshman Lance Beckwith (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) scored 11 of his career-high 34 points in overtime to propel the Bethany men’s basketball team to a 79-68 victory over Washington & Jefferson Wednesday night.
The win puts the Bison (10-7, 4-2) into a first place logjam in the PAC, as they are tied with Thomas More (10-7, 4-2), Grove City (9-6, 4-2) and Westminster (5-12, 4-2). The Presidents fall to 11-6 and 3-3 in the league.
W&J controlled the early stages of the contest, as Albert Varacallo scored seven and Josip Lucic-Lozak tallied six during an opening 23-11 spurt. Although the Bison got a spark from a dunk on an offensive rebound by freshman Tobi Akinsola (Cary, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy), the Presidents lead grew to 36-23. But BC scored the final seven points of the half on two free throws and a lay-up by Beckwith and a three from junior Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) to make it a 36-30 W&J advantage at the break.
A 13-3 run by the Presidents early in the second half ballooned their lead back to double digits and it stood at 54-43 midway through the second half. Bethany made their move then, scoring seven straight points to ignite a 20-4 spurt. Senior Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) hit a pair of triples during the run and Beckwith totaled seven, including a lay-in with 1:55 left to give BC a 63-58 margin.
However, the Bison could not put the visitors away in regulation. W&J’s Brian Felker had a lay-up and then a free throw to make it a two-point game and Wahab Owolabi knocked down two foul shots with 11 seconds showing on the clock to even the score at 63. The Bison were unable to get a shot off before the horn sounded and the game carried to overtime.
Both teams turned the ball over twice in the opening minute of OT before a Beckwith foul shot gave BC the lead for good. Sophomore Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) hit consecutive jumpers to counter a Varacallo bucket and a Beckwith three made it 71-65 Bison with 2:18 remaining. Later, after W&J moved within four, Beckwith would sink another trey with the shot clock winding down to push Bethany’s lead back to seven. The 6-0 freshman guard would put the exclamation point on the remarkable win with a lay-up off an Akinsola steal and two foul shots in the closing seconds.
For the game, Beckwith went 10-for-18 from the floor and 12-for-15 from the foul line to notch his 34 points. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, passed out four assists and made three steals. Senior Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) was the only other Bison in double figures with 13, while junior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
Leading the Presidents was Lucic-Jozak with 14 points and 14 rebounds and Felker with 12 points and 10 boards.
The Bison will square off with one of their fellow leaders in the PAC Saturday when they host Thomas More at 4 p.m. The Saints defeated Bethany 75-61 in Kentucky back on Dec. 3 in the conference opener for both teams.