BETHANY LOOKING TO REBOUND THURSDAY AGAINST GROVE CITY
Jan. 5 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball will be trying for their first win following the holiday break Thursday when they host defending PAC champion Grove City at Hummel Field House Thursday night in an 8 p.m. tip-off.
The New Year began on a down note for the Bison (8-4, 2-1) Monday night when their six-game winning streak was snapped with a 60-58 loss at PAC front-runner Thiel. Bethany led by as many as 17 in the first half, but the Tomcats rallied and scored the winning basket with just two seconds to play. Junior forward British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) registered his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds while adding in five blocks and sophomore guard James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) cashed in three three-pointers on his way to 13 points as well.
Bethany went into the Thiel game leading the conference in field goal percentage and had shot 50 percent or better in four consecutive games. However, BC was held to just 34.8 percent shooting in the game, their second-lowest percentage this season. The Bison defensive effort was nearly enough to overcome the cold shooting night, as they limited Thiel to just 35.8 percent shooting, the best of the season so far by Bethany.
The five blocked shots by Alexander against Thiel was a season-high for him and the team, as BC has become a tougher team to score against inside. The Bison rank third in the conference with 3.83 rejections per game and with 46 swats so far in 12 games, they are closing in quickly on the 59 blocks they recorded all of last year. The 6-6 Alexander has been a difference, ranking third in the PAC with 1.5 per game, but sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) is right behind him in the league standings with 1.25.
The Wolverines (4-7, 1-2) captured the PAC title last year, but are in a bit of a rebuilding year. They played their initial game since the first semester Tuesday by travelling to Juniata and suffered a 64-56 overtime loss. Grove City led by five with 90 seconds to play in regulation, but the Eagles bounced back to tie the game and then outscored GCC 11-3 in the extra session. Freshman guard Charlie Thomas, making his first career start, knocked down 4-of-7 from the arc on his way to a team-best 14 and guard Cody Fleeger recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Although GCC is ranked ninth in the league in scoring with just 59.3 points per game, they remain one of the PAC’s most tenacious defensive programs. They rank first in points allowed at 61.4, well ahead of second-place Bethany (67.9), and are allowing teams to shoot just 37.9 percent from the field, the lowest in the circuit. They are also one of the top rebounding teams in the PAC, holding a +4.8 advantage on the glass.
The top scorer for Grove City is senior forward Luke Tomaselli, who is firing in 12.8 markers per game and is shooting 80 percent (32-40) from the foul line. Junior point guard Brett Matson is the only other Wolverine averaging double digits with 11.4 points per game and also leads the team with 30 assists and 24 steals. At 6-1, Fleeger has led the team in rebounding in six games this year and is pulling down 6.4 boards per contest.
Fleeger’s name is familiar to Bison fans, as it was his three-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play that gave GCC a 71-68 victory at Hummel Field House last year. It was his only points of the night, while Matson totaled 16 points and seven assists in the win. Bethany was led by current senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) with 15 points. The win gave the Wolverines a sweep of the season series, as they knocked off BC 65-54 earlier in the year at home, which snapped Bethany’s four-game winning streak in the series.