Jan. 11 - BETHANY, W.Va. - Thiel raced out to a 19-5 lead to open the night and despite several attempts to get back into the game, the Bethany College men's basketball team could not overcome the deficit and a season-worst 30 percent shooting in dropping a 69-57 decision in a battle for first place in the PAC Wednesday night.
The Bison, who suffered their first loss at home this season, fall to 13-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference. Thiel seized control of the top spot in the league and now stands at 10-4 and 7-0 in the PAC.
Five different players scored in the Tomcats' opening surge, which was capped by a Kameron McKaskill lay-up for a 19-5 TC lead with 12:57 to go in the first half. Although the Bison made only 28 percent from the floor before halftime, six straight points to close out the period made it a 33-25 Tomcat lead at the break.
Bethany used that momentum to keep chipping away at the TC advantage to get within three on two different occasions, the second being on a triple by junior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) with 15:41 left to make it a 38-35 deficit. The Bison missed opportunities to draw closer, as they went without a field goal for nearly six minutes but Thiel went cold as well and could only increase the lead to 42-35 during that stretch.
The difference was four points at 47-43 after BC junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) made a lay-up at the 6:53 mark. Thiel then took control with seven consecutive points, including a trey by Chace McKinney to swell the cushion to 54-43. The Bison were only able to get as close as eight the rest of the way and the Tomcats pulled out the win to stay atop the PAC.
Leading Bethany was junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 20 points and five steals. Also reaching double digits was junior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) with 14 and Mabery with 12.
The Tomcats, who controlled the glass by a 50-31 margin, were led by Devon Adams with 19 points and five assists. McKinney tallied 13 and Blair Rozenblad scored all 10 of his points in the second half and hauled down 15 boards.
Bethany returns to the floor Saturday with a 4 p.m. tip-off at Westminster.