After taking nine- and seven-point leads in the first half, the Bison would carry a 39-37 advantage into halftime. Senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) broke a 32-32 tie with five straight points and finished with 10 markers in the opening period. The Titans were carried by forward Ryne Murray, who dropped in 18 through the first 20 minutes.
A quick 8-0 spurt early in the second half, which featured triples from Jackson and junior forward Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) and a lay-up form junior guard Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline), pushed BC to their biggest lead of the night at 52-41. After the teams swapped hoops, the Titans roared back into the game with a 13-2 run to even the score at 56 and the contest was tight the rest of the way.
A foul shot by Jackson with 3:45 remaining pushed Bethany’s lead to 70-65, but Westminster’s David Richards hit a three and two lay-ups on three straight possessions to ignite a 13-5 run that gave the hosts a 78-75 lead. Jackson brought his team within one on a lay-up with 19 seconds left and the Titans missed three out of four foul shots in the final 17 seconds to keep Bethany in the game. The final two misses were by Murray with six seconds showing and Jackson grabbed the rebound. He pushed it up the floor and as the buzzer sounded, was fouled while putting up a shot, putting him at the line for two shots and a chance to send the game to overtime.
However, Jackson missed the first free throw and the second one was waved off, allowing Westminster to score the win, which clinched the fourth seed in next week’s PAC Tournament for the Titans and a home game in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Jackson’s final line included a game-high 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Three others totaled double figures, including Palermo and Petkovski with 14 apiece and sophomore forward Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) with 10.
The Titans victory was aided by Murray’s double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Craig Hannon notched 20 and Richards recorded 17.
The Bison, who clinched the PAC regular season title and the top seed in the PAC Tournament with their win over Grove City a week ago, will complete the regular season Saturday with a 4 p.m. tip-off against Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t mean anything in the standings, as BC has clinched the top seed and W&J is locked in as the #3, but it will be Senior Day and Bethany will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of men’s basketball at the school.