Dec. 1 - BETHANY, W.Va. - Despite leading by as many as 21 in the first half, the Bethany College men's basketball team was forced to come from behind and then hold on for a 75-74 victory over Westminster Wednesday night in the PAC opener for both teams.
The Bison (4-3, 1-0) shot 55 percent in the opening half and forced 11 Titan (1-4, 0-1) turnovers in the first half, as they held as large as a 43-22 lead and carried a 47-32 advantage into halftime. Westminster used a 16-4 spurt early in the second period to trim the BC lead to one and then a three by Christian Shea put the visitors ahead 65-63 with seven minutes remaining.
Bethany responded with six straight points off a lay-up by junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison), two foul shots by sophomore Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) and a jumper by sophomore James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) to go back in front 69-65. The Bison would not trail again, but they would have to fend off another Titan charge at the end.
The final BC point came on a free throw from sophomore Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) with 2:07 to go for a 75-70 lead, but Westminster trimmed it back to one and then a final shot by Doug Smith with eight seconds to go was off the mark. Bethany was fouled and the ensuing inbounds pass was heaved to the far end of the floor, where it was jostled between Alexander and a Westminster player, allowing time to run out and the Green and White to escape with the triumph.
Senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) led a balanced Bethany offense with 16 points, as well as nine boards. Alexander hit for 12 and added nine rebounds as well, while Mabery also pumped in a dozen and added seven assists and five steals. Rounding out the double digit scorers was Barton and sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 11 each.
Smith carried the Titans during their big comeback, as he fired in 17 of his game-high 27 markers in the second half, and Christian Shea came off the bench to score 13.
The Bison will be at home again for their next contest, a Saturday night tilt with Waynesburg. Tip-off for the PAC match-up is slated for 8 p.m. at Hummel Field House.