Dec. 16 WBB vs. Hiram (L, 69-64); Dec. 17 MBB vs. St. John Fisher (L, 79-70); Dec. 31 MBB vs. Ohio Northern (1:00 p.m.)

BETHANY HOPES TO STAY HOT SATURDAY AGAINST WAYNESBURG

Dec. 3 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After opening PAC play with a one-point victory Wednesday night, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will try to continue its recent strong play when they host Waynesburg Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Hummel Field House.

The Bison (4-3, 1-0) made it three wins in the last four outings by edging Westminster 75-74 Wednesday in the conference lidlifter. After leading by as many as 21 in the opening half, BC watched that margin melt away to a charging Titan team that took a 65-63 lead with seven minutes to play. Bethany was able to regroup with six consecutive points to regain the lead for good and then held off another late Westminster surge at the end. Senior forward Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) led five scorers in double digits with 16 and grabbed nine rebounds to tie for the team-lead with junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison), who also tossed in 12 points.

Wednesday’s performance continued a strong stretch of games for McFadden that dates back to last season. The 6-4 forward scored a career-high 22 points in the Bison’s win over Westminster in the 2010 PAC Tournament Quarterfinals. Not a big scorer through his career at Bethany, McFadden was averaging 4.5 points per game coming into his senior year, but since that effort, he is putting up 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds over the last 11 contests.

Bethany’s defense continues to play a role in the team’s success. Ranked second in the conference with 19.6 forced turnovers per game, BC is also the conference-leader in steals with 11.6 a game. Sophomore forward Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township), who was second in the league a year ago with 70 steals, is again the top thief for the Green and White. He has 21 steals and his 3.00 per game is ranked first in the circuit, while sophomore point guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) isn’t far behind with 2.43 per game, which is tied for fourth in the PAC.

A win Saturday would not only move the Bison to 2-0 in the conference, but would also extend a long winning streak against Waynesburg. Bethany has won 16 consecutive games over the Yellow Jackets, who have not won against BC since a 97-90 decision at home in Feb., 2002. The Bison’s advantage in the all-time series grew to 59-38 with a pair of victories last season, although both games were tied at halftime before the Green and White pulled away for the triumphs. Wilcox had 14 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a 70-52 win at Waynesburg and then netted a team-best 13 in a 67-57 decision at Hummel Field House.

This will be the initial PAC game of the year for Waynesburg, who lost 80-72 on Wednesday to Hilbert in a non-conference tilt. Although Steven Iser and Lou Galante both scored 17, the Yellow Jackets shot just 34 percent from the floor, while Hilbert knocked down 50 percent of their field goal attempts. Despite the loss, Waynesburg is 2-2 this year, which already matches their win total from all of last year when they finished 2-22 and 0-12 in the PAC. The Yellow Jackets have a new head coach in Mark Christner, who took over the Jackets program after serving as an assistant at Calvin College in Michigan.

This game will pit two defenses that like to create turnovers, as Waynesburg is the only team ahead of Bethany in forcing miscues with 21.3 per game. The Jackets are also right behind BC in the steals category with 10.75 per game. Iser (13.3) and Galante (10.0) are the top scorers for Waynesburg this year and Galante also leads the squad in rebounding (6.3), field goal percentage (53.6) and three-point accuracy (56.3), which he does while averaging 17 minutes per game off the bench.