Feb. 17 - BETHANY, W.Va. – If the Bethany College men’s basketball team can pick up a victory Saturday in the regular season finale at Washington & Jefferson, it will claim the #2 seed and potentially host two games in next week’s PAC Tournament. Game time in Washington is set for 4 p.m.
The Bison (18-6, 10-3) are currently alone in second place in the conference, one game in front of Saint Vincent (17-7, 9-4). Bethany can also clinch the second seed if Saint Vincent loses Saturday at Thomas More (12-12, 8-5), who is in need of a victory to remain in the top four and earn a home game in the Tournament quarterfinals next week. Thiel (18-6, 13-1) has clinched the top seed and home-court advantage throughout the PAC Tournament.
Bethany claimed its fourth straight win Wednesday night with an 82-61 non-conference triumph at Pitt-Greensburg. Sophomore James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) scored 15 of his team-high 18 markers in the first half to help push BC to a 43-30 halftime lead and the Green and White didn’t look back. Sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Twp.) added 17 points and junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) posted his sixth double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds, as well as four blocked shots to take over the conference lead in that category (49).
In the last two games, the Bison have been short-handed, as senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) has been forced to sit out because of an injury suffered in the Feb. 9 win at Saint Vincent. In his absence, BC has turned to a pair of young players who are stepping up their contributions. Sophomore Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski Area) made his first career start against Thomas More Feb. 12 and chipped in six points, six rebounds and three assists, then followed that with 11 points and a career-high seven boards in the Pitt-Greensburg win.
In addition, freshman Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) contributed two points, four rebounds and one steal while playing a season-high 18 minutes against Thomas More. He stepped up again against Pitt-Greensburg with five points, three rebounds and two steals in 17 minutes of action.
Bethany will need Pacific and Addy to be strong again to provide the kind of production McFadden supplied in the first meeting with W&J. Alexander had 19 points and eight boards and McFadden was one of three Bison to notch 12 points in BC’s 71-58 victory over the Presidents Jan. 19. Bethany shot 52 percent from the floor and held a 33-23 rebounding advantage in the contest, which helped counter W&J making a season-high nine three-pointers. Senior Brian Felker made two of those triples and scored a team-best 16 points before fouling out.
The Presidents (10-14, 7-6) may be peaking at just the right time, as they have won three in a row. With a victory Saturday, coupled with a Thomas More loss, W&J can sneak into the #4 seed and earn a home game for next week’s conference playoffs. They continued their late-season surge with a 56-42 win at Waynesburg. The Presidents made only 15-of-47 attempts from the floor (32 percent), but sank 23 free throws to pull out the win. Senior Paul Matthews, who did not play in the first Bethany game because of illness, hit 16 foul shots and scored a game-high 23.
W&J has relied on a solid defense during their recent hot stretch, holding five of the last six opponents under 65 points and the team is third in the league in field goal percentage defense (40.7). Offensively, Matthews is leading the squad in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (6.2), while Zach Bellhy is putting in 13.9 points per game and shooting 81 percent from the foul line. The third President pumping in double digits is Felker, who is scoring 13.5 a game and along with senior teammate Nick Morelli, became the school’s all-time leader in games played Wednesday by appearing in his 109th contest.