Feb. 3 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After missing a chance to move into a tie for first place in the conference, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will try to regain momentum when it travels to Grove City for a PAC contest at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Bison (14-6, 7-3) hosted first place Thiel Wednesday and were within a basket before a 10-0 Tomcat run midway through the second half opened up the game. After that, BC never moved closer than eight the rest of the night and had their five-game winning streak stopped with a 66-59 loss. Bethany shot just 35 percent from the floor, including a season-low 26 percent from the arc, and managed just one scorer in double digits in sophomore guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) with 12.
The game marked the fifth consecutive that Mabery has scored in double digits. The outcome was odd in that BC has won nine of the 11 games that Mabery has struck for 10+ markers in a contest. Already the PAC leader in steals with 3.0 and ranked ninth in assists with 2.26, the sophomore is providing a solid scoring touch as well, averaging 11.4 points over the last five games.
The first time Bethany played Grove City this year on Jan. 6, Mabery’s teammates erupted, as four different Bison tallied double figures in a 75-50 BC win. Sophomore Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) had 23, senior Ryan McFadden (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) set a season-high with 17 and junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) recorded 11 points and 12 boards. It was Bethany’s largest win over the Wolverines since 2006 and gives the Green and White a chance to sweep the season series for the third time in the last four years.
This year started out fairly well for the Wolverines (5-15, 2-8), who were off to a 4-3 start. However, that was followed by a string of 11 consecutive losses, although six of the defeats were by 11 points or less and were games that Grove City was within striking distance at halftime. The losing streak ended with a 46-39 triumph at Waynesburg last Saturday, but GCC suffered another close setback Wednesday with a 73-69 non-conference defeat at Mount Aloysius. The inside trio of Luke Tomaselli (20 points), Nate Rambacher (13) and Kris Verderber (12) combined to go 19-for-32 from the floor and score 45 points, but the Wolverines committed 25 turnovers and were outscored 21-9 at the foul line.
If Grove City has their way Saturday, points will be at a premium, as GCC is last in the league in scoring (57.1), but first in the circuit in scoring defense (63.0). The Wolverines are also second in the PAC in free throw percentage at 71.0 percent. Junior guard Brett Matson, who set a new Grove City single-game record with six three-pointers in the initial meeting with Bethany, leads the team in scoring with 12.7 per game and is fifth in the conference in steals (2.16) and sixth in assists (2.95). Tomaselli is also recording double digit points with 10.8 per game and has 23 steals to his credit.