Feb. 8 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s and women’s basketball teams will play contests that won’t count in the PAC standings for the last time this year when they travel to Saint Vincent Saturday. The women’s game will open the evening at 6 p.m., with the men taking the floor at 8 p.m.
Although the Bearcats play a full PAC schedule, since they are in transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III and the PAC, their games against league foes do not count in the standings.
If SVC’s games did count, then the men’s game would be a battle for first place with the two hottest clubs in the conference. Bethany (14-7) won their eighth in a row Wednesday with a 92-67 victory over Thiel. The Bison shot 62 percent in the first half in rolling out to a 48-32 halftime lead and coasted to the triumph. Sophomore forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) recorded his first double-double of the year with a career-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) rifled in 21.
Bethany’s offensive output against Thiel will help them rise in two categories in which they are already ranked nationally. The Bison entered the week ranked 26th in the nation in scoring offense at 81.9 and may have cracked the top 25 after Wednesday’s win. BC also buried 10 treys in the triumph, which is right at their average of 10.3 per game, placing them seventh in all of Division III. Bethany’s rise in the national standings in this category has coincided with their winning streak, as the Green and White are hitting 11.9 triples over their last eight games.
In Bethany’s current eight-game winning streak, five of those wins have come on the road and the Green and White is 8-1 this season away from Hummel Field House. Despite the impressive showings in enemy territory, the Bison have a tall order in front of them trying to get a win at Saint Vincent’s Carey Center. SVC is a perfect 10-0 at home this season and are winning by an average of 20.6 points per game. Bethany did manage to squeeze out a win at Saint Vincent last year, using a career-high 33 points from Jackson to claim a 107-105 OT triumph last season.
The last time the Bison suffered a loss came on Jan. 9 against Saint Vincent. Bethany led by nine at halftime but the Bearcats scored 11 second chance points and turned 11 BC turnovers into 17 points in the second half to rally for a 76-72 win. Jackson led the Bison with 24 points and sophomore forward Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale) contributed 15 points and seven rebounds in the setback. For SVC, Ian McCollough recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Joey Butler fired in 23.
The win over Bethany started Saint Vincent’s (17-3) current nine-game winning streak. Their victory string barely stayed intact Wednesday with a 66-64 win over Geneva. The Bearcats led by eight with two minutes to play, but Geneva trimmed it one and after a SVC free throw, had two chances in the final 10 seconds to tie but couldn’t get a shot to fall. Leading Saint Vincent was B.J. McGill with 16 points before he fouled out and Butler with 13 markers and seven boards.
Although the Bearcats can put a lot of points on the boards, evidenced by their 79.2 points per game which is right behind Bethany for second in the conference, they can also defend. SVC leads the league in fewest points allowed at 65.2 and steals with 9.45 per game. McCollough is the top scorer (17.7) and rebounder (7.5), while Butler is second in points (16.9) and leads the PAC in steals with 3.35 a contest. Rounding out the double figure scorers is McGill with 10.4 points per game.
The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader will see if the Bison women (11-9) can win back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January. Bethany improved to 7-3 in the conference and strengthened their hold on third place in the PAC with a 78-67 victory over Thiel Wednesday. The Bison had to shake off a dismal first half in which they shot 31 percent and had 12 turnovers in falling behind 35-27 at halftime. BC would hit 44 percent from the floor in the second half and force 18 of Thiel’s 33 turnovers in the final 20 minutes to rally for win. Five Bison scored in double figures, led by junior guard Kaitlyn McCormick’s (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) career-high 19 points and freshman guard Kelly Goode’s (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) first career double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Already the PAC’s top defensive units for steals, Bethany is climbing the national charts as well. BC was ranked 18th in the country in thefts with 13.9 prior to the Thiel triumph and they made 20 more that night, including four each by Goode, McCormick and junior guard Caelyn DiSanti (Tarentum, Pa./North Catholic). That doesn’t include the top taker on the Bison in freshman guard Stacy Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami), who had three in Wednesday’s win and is ranked second in the PAC with 3.15 per game. Also in the PAC steals listing is Kelly Goode with 2.65 (sixth) and McCormick with 2.05 (ninth).
The Bison’s thieving skills were on display in their first match-up with Saint Vincent. BC made 23 steals and forced 35 turnovers for the game in scoring a 99-88 win on Jan. 9, which was also the third-most points scored in one game by Bethany in school history. Five players tallied 10 or more for the Bison in the win, led by junior Susannah Cartland (Harvard, Ill.) with 20 and Kelly Goode with 18. Bethany was able to shake off big scoring night from Saint Vincent’s Laura Klimchock (28) and Janelle Reed (26) in the victory.
Although Klimchock and Reed had big games against Bethany, they struggled in the Bearcats’ last outing on Wednesday. The duo combined to hit just 3-of-22 attempts from the floor and combined for 13 points, as SVC lost a defensive struggle to Geneva 51-47. Saint Vincent led 28-25 at halftime but shot 21 percent (5-24) in the second period to lose the lead and the game, which snapped a three-game winning streak. Guard Maria Baroffio was the lone Bearcat in double figures with 13 points off the bench.
Although they had issues against Geneva, Reed and Klimchock are two of the better offensive players in the PAC. Reed leads the PAC in three-pointers with 60 and is third in scoring (18.2) and fourth in three-point percentage (36.4). Klimchock sits sixth in the league in scoring with 14.8 points per game. Both are also very good at the foul line, with Reed ranking fifth in the conference at 85.1 percent and Klimchock coming in sixth at 84.5.