BISON MEN OPEN PAC ACTION WEDNESDAY VS. WESTMINSTER
Nov. 30 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After going 3-3 through a rugged six-game stretch to open the season, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will tip-off PAC play Wednesday night when they host Westminster in Hummel Field House at 6 p.m.
The Bison are coming off a split at the John Carroll Tournament last weekend. After dropping a 90-85 decision to the host and 18th-ranked Blue Streaks in the opening round, BC used a 22-0 run over the final 8:38 to pull away for an 81-55 victory over Case Western Reserve in the consolation game. Junior forward British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) scored a team-leading 16, while sophomores James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.), Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) and Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) all tallied 13. Bethany’s defense was a key to the win, as they forced 29 Case turnovers and converted them into 38 points.
In his first season after transferring to Bethany, Alexander has been a welcome addition to the Bison line-up, as he leads the team in scoring (12.0), is tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.5) and has provided a presence in the middle with five blocked shots. Other averaging in double figures for the Bison include Wilcox with 10.5 points per game and senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) at 10.3. Wilcox is also tied with Alexander for the team-high in rebounding and is also tops on the squad in steals (3.0) and assists (2.5).
Despite the tough competition to start the year, which included games against two ranked opponents and two others who won 14 or more games a year ago, Bethany has stood tall in the face of opponents’ pressure. They are turning the ball an average of just 13.0 times per game, while forcing 20 miscues a game and are leading the PAC in turnover ratio at +7.0. The Bison may have their work cut out for them Wednesday in forcing turnovers, as Westminster is committing a PAC-low 12.5 per game.
Bethany will be looking to continue its run of recent success against Westminster as well. The Bison have taken five of the last six meetings between the schools, including sweeping all three match-ups a season ago. The final win was an 82-73 decision in the PAC Tournament quarterfinals, as McFadden erupted for a career-high 22 points. The two wins in the regular season were highlighted by current senior Dustin Opalka (Cortland, Ohio/Lancaster) averaging 13 points and nearly four assists in the two games.
The Titans are 1-3 coming into Wednesday’s game and return four starters from last season. The lone victory was a 79-77 home win over Mount Union Nov. 19, but Westminster is 0-3 so far when they leave New Wilmington. The latest loss was Saturday when they fell by a narrow 75-68 score at undefeated Penn State Behrend. Freshman Christian Shea hit 5-of-7 from the arc and finished with a team-leading 19 points, while fellow freshman Anthony Thomas tossed in 13. Although Westminster managed to hit 13 three-pointers, they went just 9-for-18 from the foul line in the loss.
The top scorer for the Titans is 6-3 junior guard Douog Smith, who had 12 against Behrend and is averaging 15.0 per game. He leads the bevy of three-point bombers for Westminster, who leads the league with 11.5 treys per game, as Smith is second in the league with 2.75 trifectas a contest. Thomas is right on his heels with 13.0 per game and he also leads the squad in assists (3.3). The top man down low is junior forward Rob Briggs, who is putting up 8.8 points and hauling down 7.0 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the field and 80 percent from the foul line.