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BISON LOOK TO KEEP 1ST PLACE STANDING AGAINST WESTMINSTER
Feb. 14 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Alone in first place in the PAC for the first time this year, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will try to maintain that position Wednesday when it hosts Westminster for Senior Night. Tip-off at Nutting Gymnasium is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The Bison (20-3, 12-2) moved into the top spot in the standings with a dramatic 70-67 victory at Thiel Saturday afternoon. Trailing by 13 early in the second half, BC ripped off a 23-4 run to take the lead and then held off the Tomcats at the end. Junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township), who was named the PAC Player of the Week, turned in 18 points, 12 boards and four assists to lead the way, while junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) had 16 and senior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) compiled 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
The victory put Bethany a half-game in front of Thiel (15-7, 12-3) and Thomas More (17-7, 12-3) and a full game on top of Saint Vincent (18-5, 11-3). Also on tap for Wednesday is a big matchup with Saint Vincent at Thomas More. The Bison need wins over Westminster and Saturday at Saint Vincent to clinch the top seed and home court advantage throughout the PAC Tournament next week. If Saint Vincent can win at Thomas More Wednesday, then Saturday’s winner between Bethany and the Bearcats will be the #1 seed.
Wednesday night will also give the Bison the chance to recognize their two seniors. Alexander has been a part of the program for two seasons after transferring from Sinclair Community College in Dayton. In 49 games as a Bison, he is averaging 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds with 116 blocked shots, which is second all-time at the school. He also set the school’s single-season record a year ago with 67 rejections. Senior guard Ryan Summers (Sistersville, W.Va./Tyler Consolidated) is a four-year member of the Bison and been with the team for 77 wins in four years so far, the third-highest total in a four-year span in Bethany history. He set a career-high with 12 points in the win over Vaughn earlier this season.
Bethany leaned heavily on Alexander’s contributions in the first meeting with Westminster this year on Jan. 14th. He had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Wilcox fired in 21 and junior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) chipped in 20 in a 76-66 Green and White win. The Titans, who were within three of Bethany and missed a trey that could have tied the game with 1:45 to play, had four players in double digits led by guards Anthony Thomas and Doug Smith with 16 each.
That loss dropped Westminster (6-17, 4-10) to 2-13 overall, but since then, the Titans are 4-4 with two of those losses coming by a combined six points. On Monday, they stepped out of conference to defeat Penn State-Greater Allegheny 78-59. Westminster forced 19 turnovers, which they converted to 23 points, and posted a season-high 46 first-half points in taking the win, just their second road victory of the season. Smith was the top scorer again with 19 points and Thomas scored 14.
While Titans are a potent team from the arc, leading the league with 8.36 treys per game, they have struggled stopping teams on the defensive end. Westminster ranks last in the PAC in scoring defense (76.4) and field goal percentage defense (51.0). Smith, who is eighth in the conference in scoring at 14.5 per game, is also the top long-range bomber in the circuit with 76 treys this year. Thomas runs the point and is scoring 11.4 per game, while forward Ben Donlow has six double-doubles to his credit and is averaging 11.0 points and 5.6 rebounds a contest.