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 KNOCKED OUT OF NCAA TOURNAMENT BY MANCHESTER

March 4 - WOOSTER, Ohio – A sluggish start put the Bethany College men’s basketball team in a hole to start the game and the Bison could not dig themselves out in dropping a 70-58 decision to #21 Manchester Friday night in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament at Wooster.

The game could not have had a worse start for the Bison (21-8). They missed their first 11 shots of the game and didn’t score until senior Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lakeview) buried a three-pointer with 10:21 left. Unfortunately by then, Manchester (22-6) had sprinted out to a 15-0 lead behind six points each from Jason Spindler and Tyler Delauder.

Once Bethany finally scored, the rest of the first half featured the teams swapping runs. Senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) scored seven in a 10-4 BC spurt that brought them within nine. The Spartans answered by outscoring Bethany 15-7 and took their largest lead of the night at 34-17 when Mitch Schaefer drilled a trey with four minutes to go.

The Bison closed the first half with a flourish, scoring 10 straight to go into halftime down by just seven at 34-27. McFadden, who was playing for the first time since Feb. 9 because of injury, carried the BC offense in the opening stanza by dropping in 13. Manchester was paced by Tyler Delauder, who hit all three tries from deep and notched 11 by halftime.

The second half opened with Bethany junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) hitting a jumper to slice the BC deficit to five. The Spartans would respond by firing in 11 consecutive points to push their lead back to 45-29. The Bison would make their big push to climb back into the game with less than seven minutes to play. A three-point play by sophomore Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) and triple from McFadden had Bethany within seven at 56-49 with 5:26 to play.

It would be the first of three times Bethany would get as close as seven, but they missed chances to get even closer. On two of the occasions, the Bison would get a stop or turnover on the defensive end and then turn it back over to Manchester. With the score 62-55 with two minutes left, BC had a chance in transition but a turnover ended the opportunity. Two possessions later, Manchester’s Delauder scored hit a lay-up in transition to start a string of five straight points that swelled their lead back to double figures and the Spartans would pull away for the win to advance to the second round.

After missing their first 11 shots, Bethany shot just under 50 percent the rest of the game and had another solid game at the foul line by shooting 75 percent (9-12). What hurt the Bison the most was 19 turnovers that were converted into 20 Manchester points.

The only Bethany player to reach double figures was McFadden, who fired in 18 points in his final game in Green and White. A trio of Bison notched nine points apiece, including Alexander, Mabery and Wilcox, while Opalka hit for eight in his last game for BC. Alexander also completed a big year by posting team-highs of 14 rebounds, four blocked shots and two assists.

For Manchester, who was making their first NCAA appearance since 1999, Delauder sank six three-pointers to post a game-high 23, while Jordan Moss netted 14 and Spindler recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.