BETHANY TO HOST THOMAS MORE IN EARLY PAC SHOWDOWN SATURDAY
Dec. 8 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Two of the top teams in the PAC will square off Saturday afternoon when the Bethany College men’s basketball team (7-0, 2-0), who is off to its best start in 48 years, will host Thomas More (7-1, 3-0). The game is scheduled to begin at approximately 4 p.m. following the women’s game.
With an 88-73 triumph over Carnegie Mellon in a non-league battle Tuesday, the Bison improved to 7-0 for the year, marking the first time since BC went 18-0 in the 1963-64 season the program has started the year with seven consecutive victories. Bethany trailed by three at halftime to the Tartans, but shot 53 percent in the second half to come back for the win. Junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) led the charge with 24 points, six steals, five rebounds and four assists and junior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) had 18 markers.
Already one of the better all-around players in the conference, Wilcox’s numbers have spiked upward recently. In the last three games, he is putting up 17 points, 8,7 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.7 steals per game while shooting 50 percent (20-40) from the floor. With 28 steals this season, which puts him at the top of the PAC with 4.0 per game, Wilcox already has 159 for his career to rank fourth all-time at Bethany.
Of all the keys to the Bison’s fast start this season, perhaps none is more important that the way they have taken care of the basketball this year. Bethany committed only three turnovers in the Carnegie Mellon win Tuesday, the third time this year they have turned it over less than 10 times in a contest. For the year, BC is averaging 9.9 miscues per game, which is first in the league by four over Westminster (13.9). By comparison, while the Bison are averaging less than 10 turnovers per game, the other eight teams in the league have combined for three games with single-digit miscues, including one each for Thomas More, Waynesburg and Westminster.
The rivalry between Bethany and Thomas More is young in comparison to the other long-established match-ups in the conference, but it is as evenly matched as any in the conference. The series between the programs is tied at 10-10 and the last two meetings at Bethany have been decided by a total of seven points. The Bison won both games last year by matching five-point spreads, including a 71-66 victory at TMC and an 87-82 decision on their floor. Senior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) led the way in the home win with 25 points and 13 rebounds and junior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) was big in both match-ups, averaging 18.5 points and shooting 80 percent (8-10) from the arc in the victories.
The Saints are riding a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s game and are 4-0 on the road so far. Their only loss came to an undefeated Transylvania team, who received 14 votes in this week’s D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll, just ahead of the Bison, who picked up seven votes in this week’s balloting to be the first PAC team in at least eight years to receive votes in the D3Hoops poll.
Thomas More barely avoided a loss in Wednesday’s home match-up with Washington & Jefferson, as TMC needed a three-pointer at the buzzer by senior guard Todd Krohman to pull out a 67-66 victory. The Saints trailed by six at halftime, but finished the game shooting 49 percent from the floor. Senior guard Daniel Whelan and junior forward Phil Feinberg both scored 13 points and sophomore guard Spencer Berlekamp knocked down 11.
The Saints hold either the first or second spot as a team in the conference in every offensive category, including first in field goal (49.8) and three-point (43.2) percentage and second in scoring (78.2) and free throw percentage (71.5). The top scorer is the 6-5 Feinberg, who is averaging 14.3 points per game in his first year after transferring to the school and he is also hauling down 7.5 boards a game. Whelan is right behind with 13.8 points and inside is the 6-7 senior center Colt Stafford with 9.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.