Nov. 23 - NEW CONCORD, Ohio –After falling behind by three at halftime, the Bethany College men’s basketball team held host Muskingum to 31 percent (8-26) shooting in the second half as the Bison rallied for a 57-54 victory on the road Tuesday to even their record at 2-2 this year.
Neither team took larger than a five-point lead in the first half. Back-to-back treys from senior Ray Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Livonia Clarenceville) and senior Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lakeview) gave BC a 22-18 lead. The Muskies bounced back by notching 13 of the half’s final 19 points, including a pair of threes from Carson Thomas, to build a 31-28 lead going into the halftime locker room.
Bethany was still behind 35-33 nearly five minutes into the second half before they ran off a 10-1 run off the strength of six points from sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township), which put the Green and White in front 45-36. That was answered a few minutes later with nine straight points from the Muskies (0-3) to draw the home team even at 47 with 6:36 remaining.
On their next possession, Bison sophomore Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) scored on a lay-up to give Bethany the lead for good. It was also BC’s last field goal of the contest and they would turn to their defense to hang on for the win. Muskingum turned the ball over four times and made just 3-of-11 from the field down the stretch. Bethany’s final 10 points came from the foul line, including four by senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) and a pair by Opalka with nine seconds left to clinch the tough road win.
Opalka went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe and 3-for-4 from the arc to finish with a team-leading 13 points. McFadden added 12 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Wilcox matched his scoring total with a dozen markers and also made three steals.
Muskingum was led by Kyle Clinedurst with 15 points and Thomas nailed four triples to score 12.
The Bison will return to action this weekend at the John Carroll Tournament. Bethany will take on the host Blue Streaks, who were ranked 18th in the nation in the D3Hoops.com preseason Top 25 poll, in the first round Saturday at 7 p.m.