Feb. 16 - WASHINGTON, Pa. – Senior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and senior Nick Wilcox (below right - Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) recorded a double-double as the Bethany College men’s basketball team completed the regular season with a 74-63 victory at Washington & Jefferson.
The Bison (16-9, 10-6) had to overcome a sluggish start and foul trouble in the opening half. W&J’s Zach Bellhy pumped in eight to help the home team race out to an 18-7 lead and two of BC’s starters were on the bench with two fouls each. Bethany turned to its reserves and started chopping away at the President lead. Five different players scored during a 17-2 run that went over eight minutes and was capped by a trey from senior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) to put the Bison on top 26-22.
As quickly as BC turned the tables, W&J answered back by scoring six of the final eight points of the half to make it a 28-28 tie at the break. Pacific helped keep Bethany in the game with nine points, while Bellhy tossed in 13 in the first half, which had 24 fouls called and 29 free throws attempted in the first half between the teams.
The second half saw Bethany threaten to pull away several times, only to have W&J mount a comeback to get back in the game. After Bellhy sank a triple to begin the second half, Mabery scored seven in an 8-2 spurt that gave BC the lead for good. The Presidents were within a point when Bethany heated up from the arc. Senior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) hit one trey and that was followed by consecutive threes from junior Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti). Mabery followed a short time later with a triple and then made a steal and lay-up to complete a 14-6 surge that had Bethany on top by a 50-41 count.
Bethany’s lead reached 10 at 55-45 when Wilcox swished a three but W&J charged back into the game with seven consecutive markers. That was as close as the Presidents would get, as the Bison finally managed to pull away for good. A 9-2 run was highlighted by a three-point play from Addy to take BC’s advantage back up to 66-56 and Bethany closed out the win to snap a three-game losing streak.
Leading the Bison in the win was Mabery (right), who hit for a season-best 25 points and added three steals and three assists. Despite battling through foul trouble, Addy posted 14 points and seven rebounds and Wilcox recorded his sixth double-double of the year with 13 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists and four steals, including the 300th of his career.
W&J was led by the Bellhy brothers, as Zach totaled 22 points and 11 rebounds and Nate compiled 18 points and 10 boards.
Despite the win, the Bison dropped to the fourth seed for next week’s PAC Tournament, as Thiel beat Grove City to move up to the third seed. Bethany will begin the conference playoffs Tuesday night when they host W&J again in a 7 p.m. tip-off.