Bethany Hosts Thiel Saturday in Early Clash of PAC Unbeatens
Dec. 7 -BETHANY, W.Va. – First place in the PAC will be on the line Saturday when the Bethany College men’s basketball team hosts undefeated Thiel. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.
With a 75-62 win over Geneva Wednesday night, the Bison began their third straight season with a 3-0 record in the PAC. Bethany was unable to pull away from the Golden Tornadoes all night, as they led by just four at halftime and the lead didn’t go over 10 points until the final 28 seconds. Senior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) led all scorers with by matching his career-high with 27 points, including 18 in the second half.
Also providing a big effort in the win was junior Leslie Addy (right - Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) and senior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands). Addy posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 19 rebounds, the most by a Bison in nearly three years. Mabery chipped in with 10 points and a season-high six steals, which helped BC force 23 Geneva turnovers.
The series between Bethany and Thiel has provided intense battles and close finishes. Two years ago, the Tomcats swept the regular season meetings, but the Bison won the third and most important meeting, a 74-67 upset of top-seeded Thiel in the PAC Tournament Championship game. Last season, TC was impressive in grabbing a 69-57 triumph at Bethany early in the year, but the Bison took the rematch. Trailing by 13 at halftime, BC came all the way back for a 70-67 win on the road, which helped propel the Green and White to the #1 seed for the tournament and an eventual PAC championship.
This season’s Thiel squad has proven it can win shootouts, evidenced by a 91-79 win over Geneva, or win grind-it-out battles, such as the 57-48 struggle at Washington & Jefferson. Most recently, the Tomcats trailed Westminster on the road by three at halftime but shot a blistering 58 percent in the second half to come back for a 75-60 victory. Leading the way was Ladell Trotty with 22 points and 16 rebounds, the second-most boards by a PAC player this year behind only Addy’s 19 on Wednesday. Sophomore guard Kamran McCaskill hit 13 free throws and scored 16 and A.J. Forbes finshed with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Saturday’s foes are the top two teams in the PAC in a pair of critical categories. Thiel leads in rebounding margin at +8.2, while BC is second at +2.1. The teams flip spots in fewest turnovers per game, as the Bison commit 10.3 miscues a contest, just ahead of the Tomcats with 11.3. In the scoring department, McCaskill, who hit for 38 in the Geneva victory, is tied for third in the conference with 18.0 points per game and Chace McKinney ranks 11th with 13.5. Forbes leads the assault on the glass with 7.8 boards per game, which is second in the PAC.