Feb. 3 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team will play one of its final regular season home games Saturday when its hosts Washington & Jefferson in a PAC tilt at 4 p.m.
The Bison (17-3, 9-2) had their four-game winning streak stopped and failed to capitalize on a chance to move up in the PAC standings Wednesday. After leading by two at halftime, BC shot just 33 percent in the second half and Thomas More hit 57 percent from the floor in coming back for a 68-57 triumph. Junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) hit for 11 off the bench. Bethany could have moved into a tie for first in the PAC with a win, but remained in second after league leader Thiel was upset at Saint Vincent 78-64.
Saturday will likely be a milestone game for Wilcox. His effort against Thomas More gave the 6-3 forward 996 points and with four more, he will become the 23rd men’s player in Bethany history to reach 1,000 for his career. In addition, he has 195 career steals and is two away from surpassing Chris Stephens’ BC record of 196. Wilcox has already gone over 500 career rebounds (514) to go along with 199 assists and if he hits those standards, he will become just the second player in Bethany history to surpass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists. He would join Mike Drahos, who finished his time as a Bison with 1,681 points, 877 rebounds and 283 assists.
This will be the 167th all-time meeting between Bethany and Washington and & Jefferson and the Bison have held the upper hand recently, winning seven of the last eight contests. In the initial match-up this year on Jan. 4th, BC raced out to a 45-26 halftime lead and kept the Presidents at bay the rest of the game in putting up a 79-60 victory. Wilcox recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 boards and was matched in the scoring column by junior guard James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) with 18. Other strong games were turned in by junior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) with 16 points, seven assists and four steals and sophomore Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) with 11 points.
Mabery’s big game against the Presidents has become a habit, as he has delivered strong lines in three career games against the Bison’s nearest rival. He is scoring 12.7 a game against W&J, but posts up big all-around numbers, as he also averages 5.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals. The seven assists he passed out against the Presidents earlier this year matched his career-high in a Bison uniform.
W&J (6-14, 2-9) comes into Saturday looking to snap a five-game losing streak. On Wednesday, the Presidents trailed Westminster by only one with 14:33 to play, but the Titans seized control with an 11-0 run and went on to defeat W&J 73-60. Leading the offense for the Presidents was freshman guard Andy Carter, who had 13 points, and freshman forward Mitch Locher came off the bench to tally 11 points and eight boards.
Also reaching double digits for W&J was junior Zach Bellhy with 10 markers. The 6-3 guard has continued to score at a remarkable rate, as he leads the PAC with 18.5 points per game. His resume this year includes five games with 20 or more and two others with 30+ points, including a season-best 34 in a loss to Thomas More Jan. 28. His first game against Bethany this year was one of his lowest outputs of the year, as the Bison managed to hold Bellhy to only five points.
Bethany’s focus can’t be on Bellhy alone, as the Presidents have Carter, who is scoring 14.1 points per game, including a team-best 16 in the first match-up with BC. Also notching double digits in that game for the Presidents was sophomore guard Brett RubinGoldstein, who was perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line and had 14. W&J is a strong team from the foul line, ranking second in the PAC at 72.8 percent, just ahead of Bethany, who is shooting 72.2 percent.