Dec. 6 - BETHANY, W.Va. – For the second time in less than a week, the Bethany College men’s basketball team faced a halftime deficit, but on Thursday, the Bison shot 53 percent in the second half to rally for an 88-75 victory over visiting Carnegie Mellon in a non-conference tilt.
The victory upped BC’s record to 7-0, the first time the program has started a season with seven consecutive victories since the 1963-64 campaign when Bethany went a perfect 18-0 on its way to a PAC championship. The win came on the same day the Bison started to gain national recognition, as BC was listed among Other Teams Receiving Votes in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll.
The opening stanza saw big momentum swings. After the Green and White used an early 12-2 spurt to open up a 19-8 lead, Carnegie Mellon (3-4) responded with a 15-4 surge and took a 23-22 lead on a trey by Asad Meghani. Bethany scored nine of the next 11 points to go back on top by six, but the Tartans warmed up from downtown to retake the lead going into halftime.
Four triples in the final 3:36 of the half, including a three by Christian Manoli with five seconds left before the break, sent the visitors into the locker room with a 39-36 lead. Carnegie Mellon went 6-for-12 from the three-point line in the first half and Rashaun Riley fired in 16 to spearhead the attack. Junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) led BC scorers with nine markers.
Bethany trailed by nine at halftime in last Wednesday’s PAC opener at Grove City and used a big push early in the second half to get back into the game and go on to take a 67-63 win. This contest would see a similar run from BC to start the second half. Junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) notched eight points during a 17-3 blitz through the opening six minutes of the second half, which gave Bethany a 53-42 lead.
From there, the Bison had to fend off a pesky Tartan squad that would not go away. Carnegie Mellon trimmed the deficit to five points around the six-minute mark and then matched the Bison score for score over the next couple minutes to stay within striking distance. After junior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) knocked down a jumper to make it a 79-71 lead with 1:21 to go, BC’s defense forced a turnover. A long pass ahead to senior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) led to a traditional three-point play and Bethany finally had some breathing room and went on to earn the hard-fought victory.
The Bison offense clicked in the second half, connecting on 17-of-32 attempts from the floor (53 percent). Wilcox continued a string of huge all-around games, as he scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half and also added six steals, five rebounds and four assists. Junior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) fired in 18 points and rounding out the double-digit scorers was Barton with 17 and Pacific with 13.
Leading the Tartans was Riley with 24 points and John Duhring and Manoli with 14 apiece.
The Bison will return to PAC action Saturday with a big home game against Thomas More. The Saints, who host Washington & Jefferson Wednesday night, are 2-0 in the league and 6-1 overall. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.