BISON DEFEATED BY RED-HOT THOMAS MORE FOR PAC TITLE
Feb. 28 - CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – The Bethany men’s basketball team was within one at halftime, but Thomas More shot 76 percent in the second half to pull away for a 91-65 victory in the PAC Tournament Championship game Saturday afternoon in Kentucky.
The Bison’s record falls to 17-11 overall and BC will wait until Monday to find out if they receive an invitation to play in the ECAC South Region Tournament. The Saints improve to 19-8 and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The first half was a tale of two runs. Bethany senior Tyler Morando (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) fired in a three to give the Green and White a 13-12 lead with 13 minutes left in the half. The Saints answered back with six consecutive points from Brian Muse, which sparked a 17-2 spurt. The final points came on a trey from Matty Owens to give the hosts a 29-15 margin with 9:29 to go before halftime.
The Bison came charging back into the game behind the play of sophomore guard Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio). He dropped in nine points during a 21-5 surge, including a three to put BC on top 35-34. Sophomore Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) hit a foul shot to make it a two-point Bison lead, but Thomas More’s Owens drilled a triple with 15 seconds left in the half to give TMC a 37-36 advantage at the break.
The second half was close at the start. Matz hit two more buckets to erase a four-point Saints’ lead and then a tip-in by junior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) evened the score again at 45 with 14 minutes to play.
The deciding run occurred in just under four minutes of action after the Testa score, as Thomas More ripped off a 23-2 blitz to take a 68-47 advantage. Point guard Romell Salone was the trigger, as he scored the first five points of the run, then assisted on consecutive threes by Daniel Ellis. The run was capped by back-to-back triples from Johnny Bovard and BC was staring at a 21-point deficit with 10 minutes on the clock.
Unfortunately for Bethany, the mountain was too high to climb. BC only moved closer than 20 on one occasion the rest of the way, as the Saints shot a red-hot 19-for-25 (76 percent) from the floor, including 6-for-9 from the arc, to claim their first PAC title in school history and deny the Bison their conference-record 13th crown.
Bethany’s backcourt duo keyed their attack, as freshman Lance Beckwith (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) finished with 16 points and five rebounds and Matz totaled 15 markers, six boards and three steals. Senior Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) chipped in with 10 for the Bison, who out-rebounded the Saints 38-34, but also struggled from the foul line, hitting just 50 percent (15-30).
Thomas More featured a balanced attack which had five reach double digits. Ellis swished four three-pointers to record a team-high 16, while Brian Muse was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the free throw line for 14.