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HOME STRETCH BEGINS WEDNESDAY WHEN BETHANY HEADS TO WAYNESBURG
Feb. 7 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With four games left in the regular season and their fate in their own hands to earn the top seed in the PAC Tournament, the Bethany College men’s basketball team begins the home stretch Wednesday night with a match-up at Waynesburg, which is slated to tip-off at 7:30 p.m.
Not that the schedule will be easy on the Bison (18-3, 10-2) during the next two weeks. Three of the final four games are on the road, beginning with the trip to Waynesburg. Then on Saturday, BC must journey to current PAC leader Thiel (14-6, 11-2), who is a half-game ahead of the Green and White in the standings. After hosting Westminster next Wednesday night, Bethany will complete the regular season with another major hurdle, a road contest at Saint Vincent (16-5, 9-3), who is also in contention for the top spot in the conference.
The Bison recovered nicely from a tough loss at Thomas More last Wednesday by handling Washington & Jefferson by an 81-49 score on Saturday. Junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) rifled in 19 of his career-high 28 points in the first half to stake BC to a 42-27 lead at the break. In the second half, Bethany scored 14 points off W&J turnovers and had 14 second-chance points to pull away for the big win. Junior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) and freshman Dylan Gravatt (Franklin, Pa./Rocky Grove) joined Pacific in double figures with 10 apiece.
Bethany junior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) turned in another strong all-around game with nine points, nine rebounds five assists and four steals and in the process, hit three milestones. After breaking the school’s all-time steals record (199) early in the first half, he later became the 23rd men’s player in Bethany history to reach 1,000 career points. By the end of the game, Wilcox had become just the second Bison to ever surpass 1,000 career points (1,005), 500 rebounds (523) and 200 assists (201).
Wilcox has done a lot of that damage in his career against Waynesburg, as the 6-3 forward is averaging 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals in five games against the Yellow Jackets. He enjoyed another banner day against Waynesburg in their first meeting Jan. 11th, as Wilcox recorded 18 points, 11 boards and four assists in a 73-45 Bison win, their 19th consecutive over the Yellow Jackets dating back to the 2002-03 season. The BC defense was instrumental in the win, limiting the Jackets to 14 first-half points and 26 percent shooting for the game.
In addition to trying to break the streak against Bethany, Waynesburg (4-17, 1-11) will be looking to snap its current four-game skid. On Saturday, the Jackets could not slow down a potent Saint Vincent offense that made 54 percent of its shots from the floor in a 77-55 Bearcats’ triumph. Forward Aaron Cromwell posted team-highs of 10 points, six rebounds and two assists in the defeat.
Two areas that make Waynesburg a dangerous opponent is the ability to get on the offensive glass, as they rank third in the PAC with 12.9 offensive boards per game, and the potential to heat up from deep, where the Jackets rank fourth in the league in threes per game (7.05). Senior guard Larry Alexander, who had a team-best nine points in the first meeting with Bethany, leads the Waynesburg offense with 11.0 markers per game and is third in the PAC with 45 treys. Since returning from injury nine games ago, senior guard Ben Altmeyer has provided a spark with 9.1 points per game and 40 percent (14-35) shooting from the arc.