Feb. 1 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team will try to complete a season sweep over Thiel when the Bison travel to Greenville, Pa., for a 3 p.m. tip-off Saturday afternoon.
Bethany ran its winning streak to three straight Wednesday night with a closely contested 79-69 win over visiting Westminster. Although BC made 11 three-pointers and shot 52 percent in the game, the Green and White didn’t secure the victory until making three free throws in the final 36 seconds. Seniors James Barton (right - Bethel Park, Pa.) and Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) both scored 17 points in the victory and senior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.
The Bison’s winning ways are tied directly to its three-point shooting, as Bethany (15-6, 9-3) is averaging more than 12 treys in the last three victories. The 11 threes in the Westminster win improved BC to a perfect 12-0 this season when the team hits nine or more triples in a game this year. The Green and White has won 17 in a row when they make that many shots from the arc dating back to a December, 2011 loss to Illinois Wesleyan, a Final Four team last season. Barton leads the sharp shooters with 38 threes this year and now has 173 in his career, sixth-most in school history.
Although Bethany made just five triples in the initial meeting with Thiel this season on Dec. 8, a stellar defensive effort sparked an impressive 64-43 BC victory. The Bison forced 29 turnovers and held TC to 32 percent shooting in claiming their largest win in the series between the teams since 2008. Wilcox led all scorers with 17 points to go along with seven boards, four steals and three steals and junior Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) registered 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. The cold-shooting Tomcats were led by forward Chace McKinney with 12 points.
Thiel (10-8, 7-5) is in fourth place in the PAC, two games behind Bethany and just one in front of Washington & Jefferson. The Tomcats missed a chance to bring down co-conference leader Saint Vincent Wednesday by dropping a 75-69 decision. Thiel rallied from a halftime deficit to take a 49-47 lead with 6:43 to play, but the Bearcats scored 10 straight to regain the lead and TC couldn’t recover. The balanced offense had four players in double figures, led by Anthony Harvey and R.J. Brownlee with 11 each.
The Tomcats are the opposite of Bethany on the offensive side, as Thiel ranks ninth in the PAC in threes per game (3.7) and three-point percentage (27.1). To make amends for the lack of three-pointers, TC leads the conference in rebounding margin at +4.4. Three players average more than 11 points a game, led by McKinney at 14.0, while Kamran McCaskill is putting in 12.1 a game and Ladell Trotty scores 11.0 points per outing. Trotty is also third in the PAC with 7.8 rebounds a game and A.J. Forbes aids in the work on the boards with 6.8 per contest.