9/1: WSOC at Marietta (W, 3-2), XC at Muskingum (M - 2nd/W - 2nd), FH vs Wooster (W, 3-2 (2OT)); 9/2: WT vs Geneva (L, 8-1), MSOC at Frostburg State (L, 2-0)
BETHANY’S ALEXANDER PICKS UP MORE AWARDS IN OUTSTANDING SEASON
Feb. 15 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) continued his stellar first season as a Bison when he was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) and ECAC South Region Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 14.
The 6-6 junior averaged 21 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots while shooting 72 percent (18-25) in two big wins last week over teams that were right behind the Bison in the conference standings. On Feb. 9th at Saint Vincent, who was just a half-game behind BC for second place in the league, Alexander was 7-for-10 from the field to score 17 points and also rejected five shots in a 65-57 victory.
Then on Feb. 12th, Alexander notched his fifth double-double of the season in an 87-82 victory over Thomas More, who was also just a half-game back of the Bison (17-6, 10-3) in the PAC standings. He made 11-of-15 shots from the field for a season-high 25 points and also hauled down 13 rebounds, as Bethany completed a season sweep over the Saints, who won the league championship two seasons ago and reached the conference title game last year.
According to Alexander, he came into the week with lofty aspirations because he knew beating Saint Vincent and Thomas More would be critical to Bethany’s postseason hopes.
“To be honest, my goal was to get Player of the Week last week,” said Alexander, who has now won a pair PAC awards in the last three weeks. “I knew I needed to play hard and do everything I could to help the team because we had to have two big wins over teams that we are fighting for second place in the conference.”
Last week’s outstanding performances continue to vault Alexander up the PAC statistical rankings. He is second on the team and 11th in the conference with 13.8 points per game, second in rebounding (7.8), sixth in field goal percentage (52.2) and tied for 11th in steals (1.43). His presence in the middle defensively is also making a difference, as Alexander is tied for first in the PAC with 45 blocked shots, third-most in Bethany single-season history and just 10 away from breaking the previous mark of 54 set by Jay Lohan in the 1991-92 campaign.
Alexander is in his first year with Bethany after transferring from Sinclair Community College in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, where he was a First Team All-OCCAC selection last year. What attracted him to the school of approximately 1,000 students in West Virginia was that it would be different from his experience at Sinclair.
“I liked that this was a small town and (Head) Coach (Andrew Sachs) told me everyone would get to know us here,” said Alexander. “We had good fan support at Sinclair, but it had 20,000 students, so it’s not quite like it is here.”
Although Alexander was anxious to be at Bethany, the basketball season did not have a smooth beginning. Following a Nov. 27 loss at nationally-ranked John Carroll, the Bison sat at 2-3 overall and Alexander was coming off three straight games with single-digit points and pulling down less than six rebounds per game. However, the next day in the consolation game of the John Carroll Tournament, he scored 16 points to lead Bethany to an 81-55 rout over Case Western.
Since that game, Bethany is 15-3, with two of the losses coming to PAC leader and regionally-ranked Thiel by two and seven points, and Alexander is averaging 14.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and more than two blocks a game. The early season struggles can be attributed to Alexander’s becoming acclimated to a new position and the team trying to find a rhythm after losing three of their top four scorers from last year’s squad that finished 19-9 and reached the ECAC Tournament semifinals.
“For me, I am still adjusting to playing at the five spot,” said Alexander. “I played the three before, so going from playing on the wing to down low has been an adjustment.
“At the start of the year, the team was separated with the new players versus the old players and there was no team chemistry,” said Alexander. “But as the season went along, the team bonded and we’ve gotten better and continue to improve.”
Even though Alexander is in just his first year on campus, he is aware of Bethany’s tradition on the hardwood, which includes a record 12 PAC championships, six NCAA Tournament appearances and four ECAC Tournament bids. To secure a 13th league crown and the automatic bid to the national tournament, he says the team must be focused on winning the battle in a half-court game and raise their concentration to an even higher level in the win-or-go-home situation.
“We haven’t won the PAC since 2008 and we know what a big accomplishment it would be to win it and reach the NCAA Tournament,” said Alexander. “Not only would it be big for our fans and the school, but it would be good for the seniors as well.
“I think if we can slow teams down in transition and get into more of a half-court game, we will have a better chance of winning,” said Alexander. “Overall, we have to turn up the intensity and give it our all because we won’t want it to be the last time we all play together.”