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Jan. 22 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball teams will begin the second half of the PAC schedule Saturday when they host Westminster in a PAC clash at 4 p.m.

The match-up will give the Bison (11-5, 4-2) a chance to separate from a three-way tie for second place in the league. Bethany is currently even  with Grove City (10-7, 4-2), who will play at first place Thomas More (13-4, 5-1) Saturday, and Washington & Jefferson (8-9, 4-2), who travels to Geneva for a game that will not count in the league standings.  

The Bison moved into the logjam for second by virtue of an 82-66 triumph at W&J Wednesday night. After leading by as many as 22 in the second half, BC’s lead was trimmed to 10 but the Green and White kept the Presidents at bay for the victory. Bethany’s seniors keyed the outcome, as Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) totaled 20 points and nine rebounds, Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) fired in 15 of his 18 in the first half and Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) drilled five treys and notched 16.

Bethany relied heavily on the three-point line in the W&J win, as they sank 11 trifectas, their second-highest total of the season. BC is ranked second in the conference this season with 7.31 triples per game and the Bison have found a lot of success in recent years when they fill it up from outside. Including Wednesday’s victory, the Green and White have a record of 25-7 over the last three seasons when they connect on nine or more three-point attempts.

A victory on Saturday would give the Bison their first season sweep over Westminster since the 2005-06 campaign. Bethany opened up league play by besting the Titans 85-67 in New Wilmington Dec. 2. After sprinting to a 20-point halftime advantage, BC cruised to the finish behind five scorers in double digits, led by freshman Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 16 and junior guard Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lakeview) with 12.

That was a much, much different Westminster team back in December however, as they were without the services of last year’s PAC Player of the Year Ryne Murray. The 6-4 forward only had one semester of eligibility left, so he sat out the fall to return for the second semester. His presence will be a big difference for the Titans, especially since Murray has enjoyed playing against Bethany in his career. In five meetings against BC, he has four double-doubles and is averaging 23.6 points and 13.2 rebounds.

Even with the return of Murray, Westminster (5-12, 2-4) is still trying to get on the right track, as they’ve dropped three of their last four. On Wednesday, they led 47-45 with 8:40 to go at Grove City, but the Wolverines closed the game with a 19-6 run to hand the Titans a 64-53 setback. Murray finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but no other Titan had more than seven points and Westminster turned the ball over 21 times.

Since his return nine games, Murray is averaging 20.8 points and 8.1 rebounds to lead the team. Other threats for the Titans include Max Spinner, who is posting 12.7 points per game and led Westminster in the first meeting with Bethany with 16. Rebounding may play a factor in Saturday’s outcome, as the Bison continue to lead the conference with a +6.6 advantage on the glass, while the Titans are eighth in the circuit in rebounding (-5.6).