Jan. 31 - BETHANY, W.Va. –The Bethany College men’s basketball team returns to action after a week off when it heads out on the road for a key PAC game Wednesday night at Thomas More. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
The Bison have been off since last Wednesday when they claimed a 71-54 victory at Geneva. The win raised their records to 9-1 in the conference and 17-2 overall, the ninth straight season BC has won at least 17 games. Junior guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Four others hit for double digits, including junior forward Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 15, junior guard James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) with 13 and senior forward British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) had 11points and 10 boards.
Wednesday’s game could feature a couple milestones for Bethany’s Wilcox. He already reached one standard, as his seven boards against Geneva gives him 505 for his career. Now he goes into the Thomas More contest with 981 points, leaving him 19 away from becoming the 23rd player in BC history to reach 1,000. In addition, with 193 career steals, he needs four more thefts to break the all-time Bethany record of 196 held by Chris Stephens (2003-07) and Wilcox also has 198 assists.
Bethany’s defense continues to be a dominating force as the season turns to the final month of the regular season. The Bison forced a season-high 26 turnovers in the Geneva win, which they converted into 29 points. The 54 points allowed to the Golden Tornadoes was the sixth time this year the Green and White have held their foe to less than 60 and Bethany is now the top defensive unit in the conference by allowing just 60.5 points per game. Only three teams have broken the 70-point barrier against the Bison this year, which includes Thomas More in the teams’ first meeting back on Dec. 10.
In that game, BC went 7-for-11 from the arc in the first half to build a 16-point halftime advantage. The Bison cooled off some in the second half, but the Saints would get no closer than seven and Bethany picked up an 89-74 triumph. Five players turned in double digits in the victory, led by Mabery with 19, while Wilcox (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Alexander (18 points, 15 boards) registered double-doubles.
The Saints (13-7, 6-2) have climbed to third place in the PAC standings with a three-game winning streak. The last two have been tough road victories, including an 84-74 triumph at Washington & Jefferson Saturday. Thomas More, who has made and attempted the most foul shots of any team in the PAC (327-460), was 25-for-37 from the charity stripe and sank 11 three-pointers. Forward Colt Stafford totaled 19 points, Daniel Whelan and Cameron Clemons tossed in 15 each and guard Todd Krohman knocked down four triples for 12 markers off the bench.
The top-ranked Bethany defense will be tested against an adept Saints attack. Thomas More is ranked first in the league in points (76.5) and three-point percentage (.390) and second in field goal percentage (.471). Junior forward Phil Feinberg ranks sixth in the conference with 14.6 points and second with 8.0 rebounds per game. Stafford poses a strong threat in the low post with 11.5 points and 6.6 boards a contest and Whelan sparks a deep and talented backcourt with 10.8 markers a contest.