Feb. 27 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After earning a bye in the PAC Tournament semifinals, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will try to earn a trip to the conference title game Thursday when they host upstart Thomas More Thursday at 7 p.m. in Hummel Field House.
The Bison (15-10) clinched the PAC regular season title and top seed in the league tournament with a 78-61 victory over Grove City Feb. 13. However, they closed the regular season with a pair of losses by a combined five points, including a 73-70 setback to Washington & Jefferson Saturday. BC let a 16-point second half lead slip away, as the Presidents won their second straight game at Hummel Field House. Senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) totaled 29 points in his final regular season home game, which moved him into 15th place all-time at the school with 1,108 career points.
His outing against W&J continued a remarkable season for Jackson. The 6-0 guard is ranked second in the PAC in scoring (19.8) and threes per game (3.5) and fourth in assists (4.38) and three-point percentage (44.7). His 84 treys this season is tied for sixth-most in one campaign at Bethany and he now has 207 career three-pointers, which places him fourth on the all-time list at the school.
Bethany being the number one seed is a familiar site in PAC Tournament history. It’s the fourth time since the league playoffs started in 2002 that the Bison have been seeded first and the previous three times all ended with BC capturing the conference crown. The last occasion was in 2006 when Bethany swept Thiel (94-70) and Waynesburg (95-64) on their way to a record 11th PAC championship.
The Bison have enjoyed such great success in the tournament because of their ability to defend their home floor. BC has compiled a record of 7-1 at Hummel Field House in the playoffs, with their seven wins coming by an average of 20.4 points per game. Their lone loss however, came in last year’s semifinals when the second-seeded Bison were nipped by third seed W&J 78-75.
All that history probably doesn’t mean a lot to Thursday’s opponent Thomas More (11-15). The Saints, who are in their third year in the PAC, will be meeting the Bison for the first time in the conference tournament and own a victory at BC this season. In the league opener for both teams on Dec. 1, Thomas More journeyed to West Virginia and carried away an 87-78 victory behind 33 points from Mark Tinklenberg. Bethany returned the favor on Jan. 26 when junior forward Petre Petkovski’s (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) offensive rebound and putback with 11 seconds left gave BC a 77-76 victory at Thomas More.
The fifth-seeded Saints bring quite a bit of momentum into Thursday’s tilt after back-to-back impressive victories. TMC had lost eight out of nine before closing the regular season with an 85-63 rout of Saint Vincent, who had entered the game with a 13-game winning streak. Then in Tuesday’s quarterfinal tilt at #4 Westminster, Thomas More shot 53 percent from the floor and committed just six turnovers while forcing 18 Titan miscues en route to a 95-77 triumph, their first-ever win in the PAC Tournament. Five scorers reached double digits for the Saints, led by Matty Owens with 17, Tinklenberg with 15 and Romell Salone with 13 markers.
Leading the Thomas More offense is Tinklenberg, who heads-up the team in scoring (15.6), rebounding (6.7) and steals (27). He is also the club’s top three-point threat with 59 connections from downtown, including a 7-for-10 performance in the victory at Bethany. He is the only Saint averaging in double figures, as TMC can play 12 or more players but are still putting up 72.7 points per game. Thomas More is also a good rebounding team, as they have a +5.2 margin on the glass this season and lead the PAC in offensive boards with 13.57 per game.