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LATE THREE-POINT BARRAGE COMES UP SHORT IN BISON’S 74-67 LOSS
Feb. 19 - WASHINGTON, Pa. – Despite making a season-high 14 three-pointers, including 10 in the second half trying to rally from a huge halftime deficit, the Bethany College men’s basketball team’s comeback efforts came up short in a 74-67 loss at Washington & Jefferson Saturday in the regular season finale.
With the defeat, the Bison’s record not only dips to 18-7 overall and 10-4 in the conference, but they fall to the #3 seed for next week’s PAC Tournament. The win slid W&J (11-14, 8-6) up to the four seed next week and earns them a home game with #5 Thomas More in the quarterfinals.
Everything went right in the opening half for the home team, as W&J shot a sizzling 65 percent (17-26) to build a 44-26 halftime lead. That included a 7-for-10 showing from the three-point line, as Brian Felker hit both of his trey attempts on his way to 15 points by the break, and Adam Braithwaite canning a triple just before the halftime horn to send the Presidents to the locker room with an 18-point cushion.
While W&J was on fire, the Bison were ice cold, making a season-low 27 percent (8-30) in the opening stanza.
Bethany heated up right out of the second half gate, making their first three shots, but W&J answered with a pair of buckets on their end. The Bison did not start chipping away at the Presidents’ lead until late. Trailing 64-48, sophomore Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski Area) buried a three to ignite a 19-6 BC run. All of the points during the spurt came from Pacific with 11 and sophomore James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) with eight and when Pacific drilled his third trifecta of the surge with 50 seconds to play, Bethany was within three at 70-67.
However, that would be as close as Bethany would get to pulling out the win. Although they made just five field goals in the second half, W&J managed to hang on by going 19-for-21 (91 percent) from the foul line after halftime, including 4-for-4 in the final 40 seconds to clinch the win.
The Bison sharp shooters were paced by Pacific, who hit five three-pointers to tally a career-high 21, and Barton, who sank four treys for 16 points. Sophomores Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) and Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) both netted 10 as well, while junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) seized a career-high 16 rebounds.
Felker’s big first half propelled him to match Pacific for game-high point honors with 21 and he added nine boards. Joining him in double digits was Zach Bellhy with 16 and Paul Matthews with 12.
Bethany could have secured the #2 seed in the PAC Tournament with a win and two potential home games. Now as the third seed, they are assured of only one game at Hummel Field House, which will be Tuesday night against #6 Westminster (7-18, 3-11) at 8 p.m. The Bison swept the season series from the Titans this year by scores of 75-74 at home on Dec. 1 and 68-49 in New Wilmington Jan. 22.