Feb. 13 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Junior guard Tyler Morando (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) rifled in a team-high 17 and two others recorded double-doubles to lead the Bethany College men’s basketball team to a 78-61 win over Grove City Wednesday and clinch BC’s third PAC regular season title in the last four years.
By winning the regular season conference crown, the Bison (15-8, 9-1) will be the top seed for the PAC Tournament, which means they have a bye into the semifinals and won’t have to leave the friendly confines of Hummel Field House for the playoffs. The Wolverines dropped to 14-8 overall and 7-3 in the league with the setback.
Bethany used the three-pointer to build up a 35-22 halftime lead. It was a 16-13 BC advantage midway through the half when Morando sank a triple to start a 10-2 that gave the hosts a 26-15 lead. GCC scored the next two hoops, but the Bison’s lead grew to 13 at the intermission off consecutive treys from junior forward Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park), senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) and junior guard Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline).
Overall, Bethany cashed in eight trifectas in the first half by seven different people. Sophomore forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) led the Green and White with eight points, while Grove City’s Ryan Gibson and Andy O’Keefe each had six to lead their club.
The three would be the primary weapon Bethany used to take control of the contest early in the second half. GCC moved within 37-26 on a Shawn Carr jumper, but Morando pumped in three treys to spark an 11-0 burst that pushed the Bison’s lead to 48-26 and the Wolverines were never closer than 14 the rest of the way.
BC would bury 15 shots from the arc in the title-clinching win, which made Bethany the top seed in the league tournament for the fourth time in its seven-year history. In their previous three times as the #1 team entering the tourney, the Bison went on to capture the PAC Championship.
A balanced scoring attack was spearheaded by Morando, who had five threes and tallied 17. Notching double-doubles in the win were Testa with 14 points and a career-high matching 13 rebounds and sophomore forward Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale) with 13 markers and 10 caroms. Jackson recorded 13 points and eight assists, while sophomore forward Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillian) was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep for 11 points and six rebounds.
Triggering the high-octane Bethany offense was senior point guard Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy), who amassed nine assists and four steals.
Coming off the bench to lead Grove City in scoring was center Kris Verderber with 17.
The Bison have a little time to enjoy clinching the regular season title before they have to take the floor again. They won’t return to the hardwood until Wednesday, Feb. 20, with a road game at Westminster (5-17, 3-7) before closing out the regular season by hosting Washington & Jefferson Saturday, Feb. 23.