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BETHANY LOSES LEAD IN 80-78 SETBACK AT WESTMINSTER
Jan. 17 - NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Westminster’s Ryne Murray scored 23 of his game-high 29 points in the second half to help the Titans overcome a 17-point deficit and edge the Bethany men’s basketball team 80-78 Saturday afternoon.
The Bison (9-7, 3-2) fall a half-game out of first place in the conference, while Westminster (4-12, 4-2) slides into a tie with Thomas More (9-6, 4-2) for the top spot in the PAC.
The Titans led by as many as eight in the half (21-13) but BC rallied and took a 31-29 lead after three consecutive baskets from freshman Tobi Akinsola (Cary, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy). A hoop by Westminster’s Max Spinner looked like it would give the hosts a halftime advantage, but Akinsola tipped in an offensive rebound just before the buzzer for a 37-36 Bison lead at the break.
The second half was all about runs from both teams. Senior Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) hit two three-pointers and a jumper to spark Bethany’s 18-6 blitz to start the second half. Murray started to get hot then, as he scored six points in an 11-2 run by the Titans to bring them back within four at 57-53. That was answered by 13 straight points from the Bison, featuring five from Akinsola, and BC looked to be in control with a 70-53 lead at the midway point of the second half.
However, Westminster responded with 14 consecutive markers to cut the BC lead to 70-67. The Bison halted the comeback for a short time on a lay-up by junior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) and a free throw by Petkovski. It was only a brief respite from the Titan march, as Murray sandwiched scores around a bucket from David Richards to tie the score at 73. The teams exchanged baskets before Petkovski’s lay-up with 19 seconds to play gave Bethany a 77-75 lead.
The Titans next possession saw Murray get free on the left wing and he drilled a three to put the hosts on top by one. On the other end, after BC’s shot was blocked, Murray grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit two foul shots to make it 80-77 with two seconds left. Petkovski was fouled on a long inbounds pass into the frontcourt and after hitting the first shot, missed the second intentionally, but Murray pulled down the board and time ran out to give Westminster the comeback win.
Petkovski had a monster game in a losing effort for Bethany, scoring a career-high 27 points and pulling down 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Akinsola was impressive off the bench with a career-high 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting and five rebounds and sophomore Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) compiled 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Unfortunately for the Bison, Murray had an equally impressive game for the Titans, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds for his third double-double in as many games against Bethany in his career. Center Steve Bielich tossed in 17 and Richards added 10.
The Bison will have to rebound from Saturday’s tough loss in a hurry, as two big games loom on the schedule this week. They host rival Washington & Jefferson Wednesday night at 8, which will be followed by a visit from Thomas More next Saturday on a 4 p.m. tip-off.