The initial period featured three major runs between the teams. Bethany swished four triples, including a pair by senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester), in the opening six minutes to race out to a 16-5 lead. Thiel responded with a pair of threes from Nick Sefcsik to key a 12-0 spurt that put the hosts on top 17-16.
After a three from BC junior Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) was answered by a jumper from Thiel’s Devon Adams that tied the score at 19-19, Bethany seized control. Over the final eight minutes of the half, the Green and White outscored the Tomcats 19-5 to take a 38-24 lead into intermission.
Although the Bison shot just 38 percent (11-29) in the first half, they turned 13 TC turnovers into 20 points to construct their halftime lead. Jackson had nine to lead Bethany, while Thiel’s Adams put in 11 by the break. The other story of the first half was Tomcat forward Joe Herrmann, a preseason All-American, managing just one field goal attempt and scoring only three points in the first 20 minutes.
The second half had a different feel to it right away, as Herrmann scored the first two buckets of the stanza for Thiel to start a steady comeback. Twice they cut the Bethany lead to single digits in the first eight minutes of the half, only to see BC answer on their next possession, once on a three by Jackson and the second time on a score from freshman Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio). A trey from Thiel’s Scott LaBelle made it a 51-43 Bison lead with 11:16 to play and it was a tight game the rest of the way.
Bethany’s lead stood at 60-55, but Thiel scored six straight, including two free throws from Herrmann to give the Tomcats the lead at 61-60 with 3:14 to play. After the squads swapped baskets, the Tomcats had possession with a 63-62 lead. They had two chances to extend their advantage, but the second miss led to a long rebound, which was passed ahead to Bethany senior Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy). His lay-up put the Bison in front to stay at 64-63 with 1:19 remaining.
From there, it came down to free throws for Bethany. Sophomore forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) canned two and Jackson buried three-of-four from the line to clinch the triumph, which snapped BC’s three-game losing streak. It was also the Bison’s 10th win in a row over the Tomcats, dating back to the 2003-04 season.
Spearheading BC’s attack was Jackson with 15 points, including four three-pointers. He was joined in double digits by Matz, who equaled his career-high with 14 markers, and sophomore forward Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale), who notched 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
In the setback for Thiel, Adams delivered 23 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Herrmann recovered to finish with 15 points before fouling out in the final minute.
Bethany’s next contest will be Wednesday when they host Saint Vincent (Pa.) College at 8 p.m. The Bison swept both of last year’s meetings with the Bearcats, who are still transitioning to NCAA Division III, so the game won’t count as a PAC tilt.