The defeat sends BC into the holiday break with a 5-5 overall record, while the Redhawks improve to 4-5 on the season.
The squads exchanged scores for the majority of the first half, as neither team held a lead larger than four points through the opening 14 minutes. LaRoche would claim a comfortable margin heading into halftime off the strength of a 9-0 spurt late in the half to build a 30-20 lead at the 3:05 mark. The Bison managed to trim their deficit to 34-29 at halftime by scoring seven of the period’s last nine points, including a lay-up and three from freshman Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) in the final minute.
The numbers were pretty even across the board in the first half, except for the Redhawks connecting on 54 percent of their shots (15-28) and Bethany hitting just 44 percent (12-27) from the floor. Junior guard Tyler Morando (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) had six to lead the Green and White in the opening stanza, while Dylan Grazier and Steve Lucas each had seven for the hosts.
Morando quickly erased the LaRoche lead by opening the second half with a jumper and a trifecta to tie the score at 36 with four minutes off the clock. The teams swapped the lead four times over the next nine minutes, with LaRoche taking a 52-49 advantage on a three by Mike Williams. That was answered by a string of seven consecutive points from Bethany sophomore Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity), capped by his lay-up with 4:54 to go that gave the Bison their biggest lead of the night at 56-52.
The Redhawks would respond by scoring on their next five possessions, including a three-point play by Lucas that gave the hosts the lead for good with 3:39 remaining and then consecutive treys from Williams in the final two minutes that swelled the LaRoche lead to 65-58. The Bison offense went ice cold in the closing minutes, as they hit just one of seven field goal attempts after taking their four-point lead, which sent BC to their second straight defeat.
Bethany had three players tally double digits, including two off the bench. Testa finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, both team-highs, while junior guard Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and Morando both netted 11.
The Redhawks had only one reach double figures, as Lucas notched 20, but nine different players scored and LaRoche finished the game shooting 53 percent (27-51), while holding the Bison to 42 percent (22-53) accuracy.
Bethany is now off for three weeks before returning to action. They will host Lake Erie (Ohio) College on Wednesday, Jan. 2nd at 7 p.m., which will be their third straight game against a foe from the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The Bison jump back into PAC play on Saturday, Jan. 5th with a road game at Thiel (Pa.) College.