BETHANY HOPES FOR EIGHTH STRAIGHT THURSDAY AT GROVE CITY
Jan. 6 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Currently riding their longest winning streak in two years, the Bethany men’s basketball team will try to maintain their momentum Thursday when they go to Grove City for an 8 p.m. tip-off against the Wolverines.
Thursday’s game gives the Bison (8-3, 3-0) a chance to stay in first place in the PAC and run their winning streak to eight straight. The victory string reached seven on Monday with a 72-69 triumph over Thiel. After building a 15-point halftime lead, BC staved off a furious Tomcat rally after the visitors trimmed the Bethany lead down to a basket in the closing seconds. Senior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity), who has earned back-to-back PAC Player of the Week honors, led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds.
Testa has been a tear for the Green and White recently. Over the last five games, he is averaging 17.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. The 6-3 forward hauled down 20 rebounds in wins over Denison (Dec. 15) and nationally-ranked John Carroll (Jan. 2) to become only the third player in Bethany history to have multiple games with 20+ rebounds, joining Ed Rollo (four from 1964-66) and Phil Harrison (two from 1962-64). Testa is also closing in on 1,000 career points, as his current total of 973 leaves him 27 away from becoming the 22nd player in Bethany history to reach that milestone.
Monday’s win was rare because the Bison were out-rebounded (34-33) in the contest for the first time this season. It was also the first time since the PAC Tournament semifinals last year against Westminster that Bethany did not win the battle on the boards, although BC won that game over the Titans as well. The Bison’s work on the glass is one reason for their fast start this year, as they lead the conference in rebounding margin (+7.2) and offensive boards (16.64).
In addition to continuing their strong play, Bethany will also try to keep up their recent success against Grove City. The Wolverines, who lead the overall series against BC 44-34, dominated the series in the 1990’s, as they rang up a 16-4 record against the Bison. However, since 2000, the Green and White have controlled the match-ups, winning 18 of 20, including a pair of close decisions last year. Testa had 15 points and eight boards in a 76-72 win at home and junior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) turned in his first career double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) to lead the Bison to a 71-64 win at GCC.
The Wolverines (7-5, 2-1) are also on a bit of a roll, as they have won four of their last five games, including a 51-47 non-conference victory over Juniata Monday night. Guard Brett Matson knocked down 3-of-4 from the arc on his way to a game-high 17 points and center Andy O’Keefe dropped in 14 in the win. Both teams struggled from the three-point line, as Juniata was 1-for-13 and GCC went 4-for-24.
Grove City can climb into a tie for first place in the league with a win over the Bison, as they own victories over Thomas More and Waynesburg, with a loss to Washington & Jefferson in between. O’Keefe, who had his biggest game of the season with 25 points and six assists when GCC knocked off the defending league champ Thomas More in OT, paces the offense. The 6-7 center is third in the conference in scoring with 17.3 points per game and leads the Wolverines with 6.0 boards per game. The guards are led by Matson with 12.5 points and 3.5 assists per game, while forward Luke Tomaselli is dropping in 10.3 points per game.