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Jan. 31 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany men’s basketball team cut a 15-point second half deficit to one on three occasions, but couldn’t quite complete the comeback, as they dropped a 78-74 decision to visiting Geneva Saturday.

The Bison (11-9) fell behind right out the gate, as the Golden Tornadoes (5-14) jumped out to a 17-8 lead. Bethany answered back with a 12-0 run to take their only lead of the game. Sophomore Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) had a three-point play during the spurt and freshman Lance Beckwith (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) canned a jumper and then four foul shots to give BC a 19-17 advantage.

Geneva followed with 11 consecutive points, seven from Richard Colick, to go in front 28-19. After five straight points from Bethany, the Golden Tornadoes tore off another nine in a row to build a 13-point cushion and they would go to the locker room with a 43-30 halftime lead. The GTs shot 57 percent (17-30) form the floor and out-rebounded the Bison 25-13 in the opening stanza.

The Golden Tornadoes scored the opening hoop of the second half and still held a 14-point lead at 53-39 at the 15:47 mark. Bethany slowly began closing the gap when senior Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) hit a three and then three foul shots to bring BC within eight at 53-45. The Green and White continued to slice into the deficit and moved within one for the first time on a three-point play by Beckwith to make the score 59-58 Geneva with 5:56 to go. Bethany looked like they grabbed the lead on the ensuing possession but Beckwith’s basket was waved off because of a charge call.

Another Beckwith lay-up with 3:35 to go made it a one-point game for the last time at 65-64. Geneva appeared to finally take control with seven straight points, but the Bison didn’t go away. Senior Tyler Morando (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) drilled a three and Matz scored off a steal by sophomore Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) to bring BC within three at 74-71 with 55 seconds to play. However, Geneva went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch to close out the win.

Leading Bethany was Beckwith, who tallied 27 points and five steals. The 6-0 freshman went 14-for-17 from the foul line in the contest, the fifth-most made free throws in a game by a Bison player in school history. Also reaching double digits was Matz with 13 and junior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) with 10.

Four Geneva starters scored 14 or more in the victory, led by Colick with 19, while Lambros Svingos totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds and Justin Nardi and Dave Phillips finished with 14 each.

The disappointing loss did not hurt the Bison in the conference standings. They still stand at 5-3 in the league and are tied with Westminster for second place. Bethany will try to maintain their position Wednesday with a road trip to Thiel for an 8 p.m. tip-off with the Tomcats.