FIRST PLACE ON THE LINE WHEN BETHANY HOSTS THOMAS MORE
Jan. 23 - BETHANY, W.Va. – When the Bethany men’s basketball team (10-7, 4-2) hosts Thomas More (10-7, 4-2) Saturday at 4 p.m., the winner will break free from a four-way tie atop the PAC and take over sole possession of first place.
The winner will move a half-game in front of the other two teams also tied for the conference lead because they play games which don’t count in the league standings. Grove City (9-6, 4-2) is at Geneva Saturday night and Westminster (5-12, 4-2) hosts Saint Vincent.
The Bison (10-7, 4-2) joined the PAC logjam with a thrilling 79-68 overtime victory over Washington & Jefferson Wednesday night. Bethany trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but rallied to force overtime and outscored the Presidents 16-5 in the extra period. Freshman Lance Beckwith (Raleigh, N.C./Word of God Christian Academy) had a remarkable game, scoring 11 of his career-high 34 points in OT. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, passed out four assists and made three steals.
The 34 points scored by Beckwith is the most by any Bison since current assistant coach Matt Drahos dropped in 38 markers at Washington & Jefferson. It’s also the most points by a BC freshman since Shaun Davis lit up the scoreboard for 39 in a loss at Thiel on Feb. 18, 1998.
The Bison trailed at halftime to W&J 36-30 and their comeback victory was their first in five games this season when they’ve been behind at intermission. The last time Bethany rallied from a halftime deficit to record a win was Jan. 26 of last season. Thomas More led BC by three at the break, but the Bison came back for a 77-76 road triumph when Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) scored on a putback with 11 seconds left.
The Saints are in the thick of the PAC race, although they haven’t played a conference game that counted since Jan. 10 when they lost to W&J 91-67. TMC’s last three games have been wins at Geneva (92-74) and over Oberlin (77-50) and a loss on Wednesday at Saint Vincent by a 77-62 count. Thomas More shot a season-low 32 percent (19-59) from the floor and 7 percent (1-15) from the arc. The Saints’ leading scorer Daniel McKeehan finished 5-for-7 from the field to tally 15 and Matty Owens scored 10 in the defeat.
Thomas More’s shooting woes Wednesday was a rare sight, as they are second in the PAC in field goal percentage with 46.9 percent accuracy from the field. The Saints have not been as fortunate from the foul line or the arc this year. They rank last in the league in three-point percentage (30.9) and eighth in free throw percentage (64.8). Individually, McKeehan leads the team in scoring (12.6) and is second in rebounding (4.6), while Mark Tinklenberg leads in boards (4.7) and is second in scoring (9.9).
The first meeting between these teams on Dec. 3 in Kentucky was tale of two halves. Bethany shot 51 percent in the opening period to build a 40-29 halftime advantage. The final 20 minutes was dominated by the Saints, who hit 52 percent from the floor and 79 percent from the foul line (15-19) to rally and take a 75-61 decision. McKeehan had a huge effort for TMC with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Bethany sophomore Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) dropped in 16 markers in the setback.