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Bison Host Long-Time PAC Rival W&J Saturday
Jan. 11 -BETHANY, W.Va. – When the Bethany College men’s basketball team hosts Washington & Jefferson Saturday, the Bison will be taking on its oldest rival in the PAC while also trying to avoid its longest losing streak in five seasons.
On Monday, Bethany dropped its second in a row with a 67-61 defeat at Carnegie Mellon in the final non-conference tilt of the year. The Bison shot a season-worst 32 percent in the game, including a frigid 4-for-22 from outside the arc. The poor shooting countered the 42-33 rebounding advantage BC recorded which included 20 offensive rebounds. Senior Brady Pacific (right - Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) netted a team-leading 16 points and senior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) recorded a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
With the Bison (11-4, 5-1) in the midst of nine consecutive seasons of 17 or more wins, the loss was a rarity on two fronts. It means Bethany needs a win Saturday to avoid its first three-game losing streak since dropping contests to Penn State-Altoona, LaRoche and Lake Erie in the middle of the 2007-08 campaign. This also marks just the fifth time in the last five seasons that the Green and White have dropped two in a row in a year.
Although Bethany has come up on the short end in the last two outings, it’s not due to the effort on the offensive glass. After hauling down 24 offensive boards in the loss at Saint Vincent last Saturday, the Bison followed that up with 20 against Carnegie Mellon, giving BC five games this year with 20 or more offensive caroms. Although Bethany leads the conference with 15.8 offensive rebounds a game, they must capitalize on their second chances more often, as their 44 offensive rebounds in the last two games have only resulted in 36 points.
The Bison have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Presidents, including a three-game sweep last year. After Bethany handily won the two regular season meetings by scores of 79-60 in Washington and 81-49 at home, the Presidents proved to be a tough out when the teams locked horns in the PAC Tournament Semifinals. The Bison led by just four at halftime and eventually put away W&J for an 82-69 victory. Wilcox (right) had a sensational game with a career-high 29 points, while the Presidents were paced by Zach Bellhy with 23 before he fouled out.
The Presidents bring a 6-9 overall record into Saturday’s game, but are riding a season-best three-game winning streak that has them on the Bison’s heels in the PAC standings at 4-3. W&J’s latest win was a 63-50 decision at Grove City behind 14 points from Nate Bellhy and 13 apiece from Zach Bellhy and Doug Johnson. After breezing out to a 14-point halftime lead, the Presidents overcame a cold-shooting second half to pick up the win.
W&J is paced by the talented Bellhy brothers. Zach, a 6-3 senior guard and already well-established as one of the top scorers in the league through his first three years, is second in the conference with 19.4 points per game. His younger brother Nate, a 6-6 guard/forward and transfer from Division II Seton Hill University, ranks fifth in the PAC with 15.6 points and is first in rebounding with 10.2. Nate has a PAC-best seven doubles-doubles and has the top two scoring performances of the season for the Presidents, as he dropped in 32 in an 81-79 victory over Muskingum and fired in 37 while grabbing 12 rebounds in a 92-82 triumph at Thomas More Dec. 8th, which is the Saints’ only conference loss of the season so far.