Jan. 21 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With a victory Saturday at Westminster, the Bethany College men’s basketball team can not only sweep the season series from the Titans, but also remain in second place in the PAC. Tip-off in New Wilmington, Pa., is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Bison (11-5, 5-2) completed the first half of the league slate with a 71-58 home win over Washington & Jefferson Wednesday. After taking a one-point lead into halftime, BC shot a sizzling 67 percent (18-27) in the second half to pull away for the victory. Junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) was the hottest of the Bethany shooters, going a perfect 9-for-9 following the break and erupting for all 19 of his points in the second half. He was backed up by a trio of Bison with 12 points, including senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) and sophomores Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) and Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township).
The win, coupled with Thomas More defeating Saint Vincent at the buzzer Wednesday, kept Bethany tied with TMC for second place in the league. The stretch run will see Bethany on the road quite a bit, as five of the final seven PAC contests will be away from home. The Bison have been road warriors in conference play in recent years though, as they are sporting a 14-6 record in PAC games away from Hummel Field House over the last four years. That includes a 1-1 mark this year, as BC lost at first place Thiel 60-58 but defeated Thomas More 71-66.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the schools, as Bethany edged Westminster 75-74 in their initial match-up Dec. 1 for their sixth straight win over the Titans. The Bison bolted to a 47-32 halftime lead, but Westminster climbed back into the game behind Doug Smith, who scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the second half. The Titans had a chance for the lead in the closing seconds, but missed a baseline jumper and BC escaped with the victory. McFadden paced five Bethany scorers in double digits with 16 and in his last two games against Westminster, including last year’s PAC Quarterfinal, he is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds.
The Titans (4-13, 1-6) will be looking for their second consecutive victory at home Saturday, as they are coming off a 69-62 triumph over Grove City Wednesday night. Westminster had to hang on at the end, as their 14-point lead with 1:21 to play was whittled down to three with 14 seconds remaining. They finally cemented the win, which snapped a five-game losing streak, by going 4-for-4 from the foul line. Smith notched a game-high 22 points and Christian Shea dropped in 20 as well.
Bethany will have to play strong defense on the perimeter, as Westminster leads the conference with 10.06 three-pointers per game. Smith, who is sixth in the PAC in scoring with 15.2 points per game, is also second in threes per contest with 3.15. Shea, who is scoring 10.1 per game, is shooting 47.4 percent from the arc, which is third in the conference. The Titans deep backcourt is rounded out by freshman Anthony Thomas, who is second on the team in scoring (11.3) and fourth in the PAC in assists (4.33).