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Jan. 24 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With the PAC race tightening with every game, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will need a win Wednesday night at Waynesburg to stay in the thick of the chase for the top seed in next month’s conference tournament. Tip-off in Waynesburg is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Bison (12-5, 6-2) pushed their winning streak to three Saturday with a convincing 68-49 triumph at Westminster. It was a stifling BC defense that highlighted the victory, as they limited the Titans to 17 second-half points and held them without a field goal for more than nine minute late in the period. The Bethany offense benefitted from the defense’s work, as 18 Westminster turnovers were converted into 23 Bison points. Sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) led all scorers with 21 points, while sophomore James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) tossed in 14.

In addition to scoring 10 points each in the Westminster win, junior forward British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) and sophomore point guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) were both big parts of Bethany’s defensive success. Alexander rejected five shots to give him 27 for the year, which is third in the PAC and the most by a BC player since Ryan Besancon blocked 31 shots in 2007-08. Mabery was also busy on the defensive end with six steals, which is tied for the most by any player in a game in the PAC this year and raised him to second in the circuit with 2.42 thefts per game.

The victory kept the Bison tied with Thomas More for second place in the conference with a 6-2 mark. The first place team Thiel suffered their initial league loss of the year Saturday at Saint Vincent by a 56-55 score. They now stand at 7-1 and a game in front of Bethany and Thomas More, who are now one game ahead of Saint Vincent (5-3) following their upset of Thiel. Saint Vincent hosts Westminster and Thiel is at Geneva in Wednesday’s other action, while Thomas More is idle.

One of the Bison conference wins this year came at Waynesburg’s expense, as BC posted a convincing 87-59 victory over the Yellow Jackets in their first meeting Dec. 4. In addition to shooting 53 percent in the win, Bethany forced a season-high 27 turnovers in notching their largest win of the year. It was also the Bison’s 17th straight win over Waynesburg dating back to late in the 2003 season. Wilcox had a team-best 18 points and was joined in double figures by Alexander and freshman Evan Webster (Southfield, Mich./St. Mary’s Orchard Prep) with 14 apiece and Mabery with 11.

Waynesburg is hoping to break a losing streak on Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets won just two games last year, but were sitting at 4-5 before the Christmas break. Since then, they have lost six of seven, including five in a row by an average of 19.2 points. They have been off since last Wednesday when they fell to visiting Geneva 81-66, which dropped Waynesburg home record to 0-5 this year. The Yellow Jackets led 56-55 with 12:29 to go, but Geneva closed the game with a 26-10 run to claim the win. Forward Jeff Young had 12 points and nine rebounds in the loss and Steven Iser chipped in 10 markers.

The Yellow Jackets have eight different players scoring more than five points a game for them. The offense is spearheaded by Erik Noone, who is averaging 9.8 points and is second in the PAC in three-pointers (45) and three-point percentage (41.3). Iser is close behind with 9.5 markers a contest and Young is the main threat inside with 9.4 points and 5.7 boards per game.