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BISON RALLY FOR 66-63 WIN, CLINCH #3 SEED FOR PAC TOURNAMENT
Feb. 20 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to defeat Washington & Jefferson 66-63 Saturday afternoon and clinch a home game for next week’s PAC Tournament.
After recognizing their three seniors prior to tip-off, the Bison (17-7, 8-4) came out flying. Treys by senior Jay Lyonett (Weirton, W.Va./Brooke) and freshman James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) highlighted an opening 10-2 spurt. Following a timeout, the Presidents (11-14, 6-6) settled down and bounced back to tie the game at 15. Two straight scores gave Bethany a five-point lead, but W&J finished the half with a 16-2 run, highlighted by three buckets from Zach Bellhy. The President cushion swelled to 33-24 heading into halftime when Paul Matthews drained a deep three as the buzzer sounded.
An early bucket gave the visitors their largest lead of the game at 35-25, but Bethany immediately started chopping away at the deficit. Trifectas by Lyonett and senior Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) and a traditional three-point play by junior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) helped BC trim the margin down to 41-40 by the 11-minute mark. Then after W&J scored four straight, the hosts ripped off seven of the next nine points, with freshman Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) putting Bethany on top again 49-47 with 6:20 to go.
The lead was short-lived, as the Presidents’ Albert Varacallo drilled a three on their next possession. However, Barton cashed in a triple on the other end and Bethany never trailed again. The win would not come easily though, as the Bison had to survive a late surge by W&J. The Bison led 61-54 with 38 seconds to play, but the Green and White went 2-for-4 from the foul line and the Presidents were able to get within a basket at 65-63 with 2.7 seconds to play. Wilcox was fouled and made the first attempt to push the lead to three. He missed the second try, but a quick tip on the rebound by senior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) allowed the clock to start running and Wilcox ended up with the board as time expired, allowing BC to hang on for their largest comeback from a halftime deficit this year.
In their final regular season home game, the Bison seniors all played instrumental roles in the triumph. Testa collected 13 points and eight rebounds, as he went over 1,200 career points (1,211) and 750 rebounds (753) in his tenure as a Bison. He was matched for team-high in scoring by Barton, who also added four assists and four steals. Seniors Ankrom (12) and Lyonett (11) also hit for double digits, with Lyonett chipping in with eight boards.
For the Presidents, who dropped to the five seed for next week’s tournament and will travel to #4 Thiel in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, Matt Drakeley notched a game-high 15 off the bench.
As for the Bison, they are now the third seed for the PAC playoffs and will host #6 Westminster Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinal round. Bethany swept the Titans (7-18, 3-9) this season by scores of 85-67 in New Wilmington and 85-73 at home.