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Dec. 29 - STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Junior guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) fired in a career-high 31 points, but Illinois Wesleyan rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to defeat the Bethany College men’s basketball team 63-60 Thursday in the first round of the Staten Island Tournament in New York.

The setback was the first of the year for the Bison, who dropped to 10-1 this season. The Titans won their fourth straight and improved to 8-2 this season.

The match-up between Bethany, who won the PAC title last year and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and IWU, who has been to the NCAA Tournament two consecutive years, was controlled by the Bison early in the first half. Mabery buried back-to-back treys to help BC score the first eight points of the game. He added a lay-up and another triple to cap Bethany’s big opening run, as the Green and White led 16-2 with 12:42 left in the first half.

Mabery hit another three-pointer with eight minutes left in the half to put Bethany in front 25-11, but then the BC offense ran cold. The Bison managed just two foul shots the rest of the half and the Titans went on a 13-2 surge to close the half, including seven straight from John Koschnitzky, to close the Bethany lead to 27-24 going into halftime.

IWU’s Jordan Zimmer sank a three to start the second half, which started a period that featured five ties and five lead changes. It also started a big second half for Zimmer, who hit five treys and scored 20 after the intermission. The final tie was broken by a Zimmer jumper with 9:40 left to give IWU a 43-41 lead and a couple minutes later, the lead went to five when Zimmer bombed in another shot from long distance.

Zimmer kept filling it up with another three at the 4:27 mark for a 54-45 lead before Bethany made their final move. Junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) hit a three, Mabery scored a lay-up and Pacific broke free for a dunk with 1:30 to go to make it a 56-52 Titan advantage, which set up a thrilling final minute. A three-point play by IWU’s Victor Davis was answered by a Mabery trey. The Bison junior kept slicing into the IWU lead with a lay-up and three-pointer, the last coming with two seconds left to bring BC within a bucket at 62-60.

The Titans would finally secure the win following a foul shot and after missing the second, Bethany was unable to get a shot off and suffered its first defeat since last year’s NCAA Tournament game against Manchester.

Mabery’s monster game came on 10-of-16 shooting, including 6-for-10 from the arc, and he made all five free throw attempts. His 31 points were the most by a Bison since Joe Testa netted 35 in a loss at Thiel Feb. 3, 2010. The only other BC player to register double digits was Pacific, who hit for 10, all in the second half.

Zimmer matched Mabery in the second half, as he hit six three-pointers en route to 23 points. Davis also notched 10 and Kevin Reed recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bison will finish out the trip to the Staten Island Tournament Friday at 5:30 in the consolation game against Vaughn, who lost to the host Staten Island 104-51 in the other first round match-up.