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BETHANY SQUARES OFF WITH W&J WEDNESDAY
Jan. 19 -BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany men’s basketball team will conclude the first half of the PAC schedule Wednesday night with a 6 p.m. match-up at Washington & Jefferson.
There will be no admission charge for the games at the Henry Memorial Center on W&J’s campus. In lieu of an admission charge, W&J will be accepting donations of canned goods or other nonperishable items for the Washington County Food Bank.
The game will pit the Bison (10-5, 3-2) and Presidents (8-8, 4-1) trying to stay within striking distance of first place Thomas More (12-4, 5-1) in the conference. Bethany enters the game off a 93-60 non-conference victory Saturday at Franciscan. After taking a 42-30 halftime lead, BC pulled away in the second half by shooting 60 percent (18-30). Senior Joe Testa finished with 22 points and also hauled down eight rebounds to lead the Bethany attack, which saw all 15 players in uniform score at least two points.
Testa has been on a tear for the Green and White since the calendar turned to 2010. In the last six outings, the 6-3 forward is averaging 21.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 57 percent (46-81) from the floor. He has posted 20+ points in five of those six games and has three double-doubles during this stretch, bringing his season total to five and giving him 18 in his career.
As a whole, the Bethany offense has been clicking recently. In the last three games, BC is shooting 57.5 percent (92-160) from the field. So far this year, when the Bison shoot better than 40 percent from the field, they have an 8-1 record, with the only blemish coming in the 90-88 setback to Thomas More Jan. 13.
Wednesday’s match-up between the Bison and Presidents will be the 162nd time they have faced off on the hardwood. W&J leads the series 90-71, but BC has claimed 12 of the last 15 games, including a pair of triumphs last season. Although Bethany has been victorious more recently, the games are always close and come down to the wire. The last eight meetings have been decided by an average of 6.9 points, with two going to overtime, including Bethany’s 79-68 victory last year at home.
W&J should be used to close games, as their last four games have been decided by a total of 10 points. It’s been a season of streaks so far for the Presidents, who countered an early five-game losing streak with four consecutive victories. Then after dropping three in a row, including heartbreakers at Saint Vincent (71-68 in OT) and at home against Thomas More (83-81), they have pulled out two straight tight games by beating Westminster 84-83 and Waynesburg 54-50.
In the Waynesburg triumph Saturday, the Presidents used another strong performance at the foul line to overcome a dismal shooting night in which they had just as many turnovers as made field goals (14). W&J made 22-of-28 from the charity stripe, including 16-of-19 in the second half. Brian Felker led all scorers with 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Matt Drakeley dropped in 11.
This year’s W&J squad has a different look than years past, as they relied heavily on the inside tandem of Wahab Owolabi and Josip Lucic-Jozak. They have graduated, leaving the Presidents with much more experience on the perimeter. Sixth-man Felker paces the offense with 14.7 points per game and is second in the conference in three-point accuracy (22-44, 50.0 percent). The only player shooting better from the arc in the league is Felker’s teammate Zach Bellhy at 51.2 percent (21-41). The Presidents are also one of the top foul shooting teams in the nation, as they were sixth in Division III through Jan. 11 by hitting at a 78.5 percent clip from the line.