Feb. 22 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bison men’s basketball program (21-4, 14-2 PAC) used a strong first-half effort and held off a second-half surge by Washington & Jefferson to defeat the Presidents 72-69 on Saturday afternoon.
The first half started out slow, as neither team could find a rhythm offensively. Through the first five minutes of the game, the score stood at 3-3. It was after that mark, however, that the rest of the frame was controlled by the Green & White.
Over the next seven minutes, the Bison stormed out to a 13-point advantage by using a 23-10 run. Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) sparked the run, scoring nine of the team’s 23 points during the stretch, which included back-to-back three-point baskets. He also scored the last point of the run on a free throw which gave Bethany the 26-13 lead with 8:34 to play in the stanza.
The Bison would continue to expand the gap, eventually growing the advantage to the largest of the game, 19 points (44-25), on a layup by Antonio Rudolph (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) in the waning seconds of the first half. Bethany would take the 44-25 lead into the halftime break.
Addy controlled the first half of the game for the Bison. Playing in his final regular season home game of his career, Addy notched a double-double in the first half, totaling 13 points and 11 rebounds. Lawrence Weldon (Baltimore, Md./Poly) totaled 10 points in the first frame, while Delonte’ Joyce (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis) finished the half with nine points. The Bison held the Presidents to 34 percent shooting in the first half, while forcing W&J into nine first-half turnovers.
W&J came out of the locker room strong, using the first 11 minutes of the frame to chip away at the Bison advantage. The Presidents outscored Bethany 30-10 through the first half of the second stanza, and took a one-point lead (55-54) on a three-point basket by Nate Bellhy with 9:05 to play.
Joyce would stop the Presidents’ run, nailing a three-point basket at the 4:53 mark to knot the game at 62-62 with 2:53 to play, and the Bison would swing the momentum back in their favor.
Using four straight points from Addy and a clutch three from Kevin Jackson (Baltimore, Md./Walbrook), Bethany recaptured a seven-point lead (69-62) with just 42 seconds to play in the contest.
With the lead once again trimmed down to three points (69-66), Jackson would again come through, knocking down two clutch free throws with 13 ticks to play to extend the lead to five points (71-66). W&J would answer quickly, getting a clutch three from Bellhy to again make the contest a one-possession affair.
After Joyce hit one-of-two from the free throw line, the Presidents had time for one more chance at the hoop. The Bison, however, were ready with solid defense and W&J was unable to get off a good look as Doug Johnson’s desperation heave hit the side of the backboard, sealing the 72-69 victory for Bethany.
For the Bison, Addy made the most of his last regular season home game, totaling 17 points while adding 15 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Jackson notched a team-high 19 points, while Joyce finished with 15 points and eight boards. Weldon also played a solid all-around game, scoring 11 points while adding six assists and three steals.
Before the game, the five Bison seniors were honored for their hard work and dedication to the Bethany program. Those honored included Addy, Weldon, Jackson, Tyrone Smothers (Baltimore, Md./Mergenthaler) and Tommy Junkin (Charles Town, W. Va./Washington).
With the win, Bethany clinched the regular season PAC title and has earned the No. 1 overall seed for the conference championship tournament, which begins on Monday. The Bison will take on the winner of the “play-in” game between Geneva College and Westminster College in a quarterfinal match on Tuesday at 7 p.m.