BETHANY NIPPED IN OVERTIME BY DIVISION II WHEELING JESUIT
Nov. 20 - WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The Bethany men’s basketball team battled Division II Wheeling Jesuit through regulation and into overtime Friday night, but the Cardinals would eventually escape with an 84-79 win over the Bison on the opening night of the Hilltopper Classic at West Liberty University.
The first 10 minutes of the opening half was back-and-forth, featuring six lead changes. Bethany (0-2) grabbed a 20-18 lead on consecutive three-pointers by senior Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) and after a quick spurt by the Cardinals (1-0), tied the score at 23 with two free throws from junior guard Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lakeview). Wheeling Jesuit answered with a 14-1 run to take their largest lead of the night at 37-23, but senior guard Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) canned a pair of threes to help Bethany climb back to 43-36 at intermission.
The second half opened with Lyonett draining another trey and a jumper by senior forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) to cut the deficit to 43-41. After the teams swapped hoops, the Cardinals’ Steve Catich started a 9-0 run with a three-pointer and capped it with two foul shots to push the lead back to double figures at 54-43. But Bethany would not fold, as a three-point play by Testa a few minutes later trimmed the deficit to eight and the Bison were back in the game.
Bethany continued to chop into the Wheeling advantage, which was cut to 67-65 with four minutes left on another trifecta by Lyonett. On the ensuing possession after an offensive rebound, Lyonett cashed in another from deep as he was fouled and the free three throw capped the four-point play and moved BC in front 69-67 with three minutes to play. After the Cardinals scored to tie the game, two foul shots by Testa and another by freshman Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) gave the Bison their biggest lead at 72-69 with 1:10 remaining.
With just under a minute to go, Catich stepped up with a tying three for the Cardinals, who then took the lead on two foul shots by Recardo Gaddy with 34 seconds to play. Bethany would draw even again on their next possession, as Testa was fouled after battling for an offensive rebound. He calmly drained both attempts from the charity stripe with 18 ticks showing and the game carried into overtime after a last-second three from the Cardinals was off the mark.
Wheeling jumped out with two quick baskets to begin OT, but they were answered by Lyonett’s sixth three-pointer of the game and a jumper by Wilcox with 2:17 on the clock for a 79-78 Bethany advantage. The Cardinals answered with back-to-back jumpers from Greg Andrews to surge in front by three, but they left the door open for Bethany by missing two foul shots with 20 seconds to play. The Bison worked another look for Lyonett, but his well-contested three-pointer was short and Wheeling Jesuit added two late foul shots to end Bethany’s upset bid.
The Bison were led by four scorers in double digits, including Lyonett, who went 7-for-10 from the arc and finished with a career-high 22. The seven treys is the most by a BC player since Brody Jackson drilled seven against Saint Vincent in Jan. 2007. Wilcox posted a solid night all over the stat sheet with 17 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists, while Testa recorded a double-double with 13 markers and a career-best 17 boards. Rounding out the top scorers was Opalka with 11, who also passed out a game-high five assists.
For the Cardinals, Catich poured in 24 points and pulled down nine boards, while Gaddy and Andrews each tallied nine.
Bethany will return to West Liberty Saturday for the final night of the Hilltopper Classic, as they will battle Pitt-Titusville at 5:30 p.m. before West Liberty and Wheeling Jesuit take the floor for a 7:30 p.m. match-up.