BISON EARN ECAC BID, HOST NEUMANN WEDNESDAY IN QUARTERFINALS
March 1 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After finishing with an 18-8 record, the Bethany College men’s basketball team was rewarded with a bid to ECAC South Region Tournament, where they will host Neumann (Pa.) University Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.
The Bison, who earned their sixth consecutive postseason bid, are the second seed in the seven-team tournament. Catholic (D.C.) University (18-8) was selected as the top seed, which gives them a bye to the weekend, when they will host the semifinals Saturday (4/7 p.m.) and the championship Sunday (2 p.m.). The Cardinals will host the survivor of the #4 Pitt-Bradford (17-11)/#5 Alvernia (15-10) quarterfinal, while the #2 Bethany/#7 Neumann winner will take on the winner of the #3 Penn State Behrend (18-8)/#6 Misericordia (16-11) match-up.
In earning their fourth bid to the ECAC playoffs in school history and third in the last four years, BC placed third in the PAC regular season standings with an 8-4 mark. The Green and White bested Westminster 82-73 in the quarterfinals of the PAC Tournament before dropping an 88-73 decision at Thomas More in the semifinals. Senior Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) fired in a career-high 22 points in the semifinal loss, while freshman forward Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) dropped in 14.
Pacing the Bethany attack is senior forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity), who is averaging 15.9 points and a PAC-leading 9.5 rebounds per game. With the Bison earning this postseason opportunity, Testa, who has played in all 111 games since arriving at the school, can break the BC all-time record for games played he currently shares with Chris Stephens (2003-07). Fellow senior Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) is the team’s second leading scorer with 11.3 points per game and led the PAC during the year with 66 three-pointers.
Although this is the Bison’s fourth trip to the ECAC Tournament, they are still looking for their first win. After capturing the PAC title in 2001, BC was defeated at Frostburg State in the first round 99-83. In 2007, Bethany finished the year with a 19-9 record following a 72-62 setback at Juniata and then last year, the Bison travelled to Penn State Behrend and were dealt a 73-69 loss despite 16 points and 12 rebounds from Testa.
Bethany is hoping the big difference between those games and Wednesday’s tilt is that this will be played in the friendly confines of Hummel Field House. The Bison went 10-3 at home this season and have a 96-24 record on their home floor since 2000, a .800 winning percentage. Although the Green and White has never hosted a postseason game before, they have been very good at home in the PAC Tournament, as their victory over Westminster last week raised their mark to 13-1 at home in the conference playoffs.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Bethany and Neumann, which is located within a half-hour of Philadelphia and 10 miles north of Wilmington, Del. The Knights are a member of the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) and posted a 16-12 overall record and 12-6 mark in their league. This is the second time Neumann has earned an ECAC Tournament berth, with the last coming in 2002-03 when they finished 18-11. That season, the Knights went to PAC champion Grove City and came away with a 75-61 win in the opening round before falling in the semifinals at Franklin & Marshall.
Neumann had a nearly identical home record to the Bison, going 10-4 in their gym, but didn’t fare as well on the road, where they posted a 6-8 mark. They entered the CSAC Tournament as the #3 seed and defeated Centenary 81-75 in the opening round before travelling to #2 Keystone for the semifinals and pulling out a 69-65 triumph. In the title game, they matched up with #21 Cabrini, who raced to a 54-31 halftime lead and didn’t look back in grabbing a 97-73 win. Leading the Knights was Na’Sheed Linton with 18 points.
The Neumann offense ranked in the middle of the pack of the CSAC, as they were sixth with 74.9 points per game, while giving up 74.7. They took care of the basketball, making the third-fewest turnovers in their league with just 14.5, and were also solid from the foul line, ranking fourth by hitting at a 68.9 percent clip. Their attack is led by a pair of All-CSAC selections in guards Linton (Second Team) and Marquise Boggs (Honorable Mention). Linton, a 5-10 senior, is ranked third in the conference in scoring (16.6) and second in assists (5.0), while Boggs, a 6-3 junior, is putting up 11.9 points and is seventh in free throw percentage (75.9). The top presence on the glass is 6-3 senior forward Sean Armstrong, who is averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 boards, which is fifth in the CSAC.