Jan. 4 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Senior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) finished with a team-high 22 points, as the Bethany men’s basketball team built a 15-point halftime lead and held off a hard-charging Thiel squad for a 72-69 victory Monday night at Hummel Field House.
The triumph was the seventh consecutive for the Bison, who improved to 9-3 overall and stayed unbeaten in the PAC at 3-0. The Tomcats fell to 4-7 and 0-2 in the league.
Bethany used hot shooting from the outside to build a big first half cushion. They hit a trio of treys to build a 15-8 lead and Testa scored three straight baskets to push the lead to double figures. The margin grew to as large as 38-18 when freshman James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) cashed in another triple, but the Tomcats scored nine of the half’s final 13 points to cut it to a 42-27 BC lead at intermission.
Senior Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) sandwiched a trey and two free throws around a Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) lay-in as Bethany extended their lead to 49-30 in the first 2:26 of the second half. It was still a 17-point advantage with 13:51 to play when Thiel began their comeback behind Blair Rozenblad.
The first-year Tomcat forward, who averaged more than 21 points per game coming in, had just three at halftime, but he erupted in the second half. Rozenblad scored 13 consecutive points for the Tomcats and his lay-up with 5:21 to go brought the visitors within five at 64-59. As the clock ticked down, missed foul shots by Bethany allowed Thiel to keep cutting into the lead. Freshman Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) and Testa both went 1-for-2 from the line and a dunk by Aundra Jones with 27 seconds left made it 69-67 Bethany.
The Bison were finally able to get some breathing room when Testa sank a pair from the charity stripe with eight seconds to go, which was answered by a Rozenblad score on the other end. Lyonett was fouled and made 1-of-2 with three seconds remaining, but the Tomcats could only manage a long shot from beyond half court at the buzzer that was off target and BC escaped with the triumph despite shooting 57 percent (17-30) from the foul line and being out-rebounded (34-33) for the first time this year.
Testa, who earned his second consecutive PAC Player of the Week honor earlier in the day, delivered another big game with 22 points and added seven rebounds. Lyonett was the only other Bison to reach double digits with 13 markers, while Wilcox chipped in with nine points, four assists and a pair of steals.
For the Tomcats, Rozenblad’s second half outburst gave him 24 points and he also hauled down 10 rebounds, while Jones notched 17.
Bethany will try to remain perfect in the PAC Thursday when they travel to Grove City. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.