FIRST PLACE BETHANY TRAVELS TO WESTMINSTER SATURDAY
Jan. 15 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The first place Bethany men’s basketball team will try to stay ahead of a crowded field behind them, which includes Saturday’s opponent Westminster, when they tip-off against the Titans in New Wilmington, Pa., that afternoon at 4 p.m.
Bethany (9-6, 3-1) has been off since Monday when they coasted by Franciscan 93-56 to remain undefeated at home (7-0). BC sprinted out to a 30-7 lead in the opening half and never looked back. Five players hit for 10+ points, led by junior Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity), sophomore Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) and freshman Lance Beckwith (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) with 12 each. Testa also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season.
Also in the Franciscan victory, Matz passed out nine assists to match his career-high and did not commit a turnover. The 6-0 sophomore’s play at the point has been the spark to the Bison attack this season. In addition to ranking second in the PAC in assists (5.13), he has also taken care of the basketball, recording the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio (2.75) in the circuit this season. Matz has been very efficient in BC’s four conference games as well, averaging 12.0 points and handing out 24 assists, while making only six miscues.
As good as Bethany has been at home, they have struggled on the road to the tune of a 0-6 mark. In the friendly confines of Hummel Field House, the Bison outscore their opponents by an average of 22 points (83-61), shoot 48 percent from the floor and hold a 43-37 rebounding margin. But when BC ventures out on the road, they are scoring just 68.3 points per contest, hit 40 percent of their shots and are out-rebounded 39-35. Bethany’s issues in road contest are uncharacteristic of a team which has posted 33 victories away from home in the last four seasons.
The differences in Bethany at home and on the road this year are similar to their results last season against Westminster. The Bison blasted the Titans 102-61 at home last year, but were nipped at Westminster 79-77. Testa had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the BC win, but the Titans’ Ryne Murray proved to be a thorn to the Green and White, averaging 17.5 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in the two contests.
Westminster’s 2008-09 season had a tough beginning, as they dropped their first nine games. But things have looked up since PAC play started, as they are 3-2 in the league to sit just a half-game behind the Bison. The Titans (3-12, 3-2) picked up their second win in three games by outlasting Thiel 80-63 Wednesday night. A pair of centers led the charge, with 6-5 freshman Mike Pratkanis tossing in a career-high 17 and 6-8 junior Steve Bielich scoring 16, including a trio of three-pointers.
Even with the efforts from the big men against Thiel, Murray remains the top threat for Westminster. He ranks second in the league in scoring (18.5), first in rebounding (9.0) and third in steals (2.1). Although the Titans don’t take nearly as many three-pointers as they have in recent seasons, they still have some of the top shooters in the conference. Murray (36) and Bobby Glass (28) are both ranked in the top 10 in the PAC in threes made and Max Spinner (40.8 percent) ranks sixth in the conference in three-point accuracy.