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BETHANY ESCAPES WITH WILD 87-82 VICTORY OVER THOMAS MORE
Feb. 12 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) scored a season-high 25 and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the Bethany College men’s basketball team pull out a thrilling 87-82 victory over visiting Thomas More Saturday.
With the win, the Bison now stand at 17-6 overall and remain in second place in the PAC with a 10-3 mark. The Saints drop into a tie for third place in the league with Saint Vincent with a 12-11 record for the year and 8-4 in the PAC.
The game looked like it would be a runaway in the early stages, as BC tallied the first nine points and kept building on their lead throughout the half. It was still a nine-point spread with seven minutes left in the period when Bethany ripped off a 14-4 spurt. Sophomore James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) scored five and senior Ray Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Livonia Clarenceville) shook free for a pair of lay-ups that helped extend the Bison’s lead to its largest of the game at 42-23 with 1:33 left in the half.
The Saints would start to build momentum for the second half by closing the opening stanza with a 10-3 spurt. First came five straight points from Colt Stafford and following a trey from Barton, TMC’s Aaron Miller scored five points in the final four seconds of the half. After canning a triple, he stole the inbounds pass and sank a floater in the lane as the buzzer sounded to slice the BC advantage to 45-33 at intermission.
Following halftime , another Barton trifecta pushed Bethany’s lead back to 53-40 at the 16:26 mark, but the Saints rolled right back into the game with a 12-1 run, with seven of those points coming from Miller. Thomas More kept charging and would take their first lead of the day when Todd Krohman hit a lay-up for a 62-60 visitor lead with 11:41 left. Over the next several minutes, the game bounced back-and-forth, with seven ties and six lead changes.
Thomas More took their final lead of the contest at 75-73 on a Daniel Whelan lay-up with 4:35 to go. A couple possession later, Bison sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) converted a three-point play to put the hosts back on top for good. That began a string of eight consecutive points for BC, which included two foul shots by sophomore Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) and Wilcox scoring on another lay-up and foul shot to swell the cushion to six points at 81-75.
The Saints were able to cut the Bison lead to a basket on a Stafford jumper with 37 seconds to go, but Bethany managed three free throws in the final seconds to close out the 87-82 victory and complete the season sweep over Thomas More. Although they committed a season-high 25 turnovers, the Bison earned the win by shooting a season-best 59 percent (30-51) from the field and dominating the glass by a 42-24 margin.
Alexander was the big finisher for Bethany all game, dropping in 25 points, which included four dunks, and also grabbing 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year. Barton was huge off the bench, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the three-point line to record 21 points and Wilcox chipped in 16.
For the Saints, Miller paced the comeback efforts with 17 of his 22 points in the second half. Also reaching double digits was Stafford with 18, Whelan with 14 and Krohman with a dozen.
The Bison will be stepping out of conference for their next outing, as they travel to Pitt-Greensburg (8-15) Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.