Jan. 13 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team (12-3, 5-1 PAC) used a strong second half effort to run away with an 85-62 victory over Muskingum University on Monday evening.
The Bison and Muskies traded baskets and leads over the first ten minutes of the game. Bethany’s largest advantage during that time span was a five-point lead (9-4) on a basket by Ramel Young (Walterboro, S.C./Estill) with 16:57 to play. Muskingum saw its largest advantage at three points (18-15) as Logan Kimble broke a 15-15 tie with a three-point play at the 11:09 mark.
Bethany would retake a 22-20 lead on a three-point basket by Alan Harper, (Cleveland, Ohio/Cleveland Central Catholic) and the Bison would never look back. The Bison were in the midst of a 16-4 scoring run when they retook the lead, running the advantage out to double figures (32-22) on a layup by Pedro Lalor (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) with 5:49 to play.
Muskingum would immediately respond, going on a 9-2 run to cut the Bethany lead to three points (34-31) with 3:33 remaining in the first half, but the Bison would push the lead back to as many as nine points (41-32) before going into the half with a 41-35 advantage.
Kevin Jackson (Baltimore, Md./Walbrook) led the Bison in the first half, notching 13 points, while converting on three-of-three from behind the three-point line. Bethany also showed off a deep bench, as five different reserves scored a basket en route to outscoring the Muskingum bench 15-4. Lalor had six points while Antonio Rudolph (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) added four.
“We were really able to show off some depth tonight,” remarked head coach Andrew Sachs. “We got some quality minutes from some key guys off the bench.”
In the second-half, the Muskies were able to come out of the gate strong, cutting the Bison lead to two points (44-42) on a three by Dave Brown with 16:41. It was after a timeout, however, that Bethany made its biggest push of the game.
The Bison put on the pressure, utilizing a full-court press to fluster the Muskies into five turnovers over a four-minute span. Delonte’ Joyce (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis) and Lawrence Weldon (Baltimore, Md./Poly) terrorized the Muskingum guards, coming away with four steals in that time frame. The tough defense helped Bethany to a 17-2 run, propelling the Bison to a 17-point advantage (61-44) with 12:28 to play.
The Bison would continue to expand the lead, and a Tommy Junkin (Charles Town, W. Va./Washington) three-point basket would push the advantage to a game-high 23 points (85-62) with 1:04 to play. The basket would prove to be the last of the night, and the Bison would go on for the 85-62 victory.
The second half was dominated by the Bison, as Bethany shot a blistering 69.2 percent (18-of-26) from the field. Joyce notched 13 second-half points while Young scored 11 in the second frame. The team also forced Muskingum into 12 turnovers, converting them into 18 points, including 10 fast-break tallies.
For the game, the Bison used excellent defense to force 22 turnovers, exploiting the Muskies for a 31-13 advantage in points off turnovers. Four Bison recorded at least two steals, led by Joyce’s four. Weldon finished with three pilfers, while Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) and Rudolph swiped a pair each.
“We really played some tough defense out there tonight,” remarked Coach Sachs. “Watching the game tape on Muskingum, they have some really great shooters. We wanted to make them earn everything that they got out there, and I think we were able to do just that.”
Offensively, the Bison were led by a 17-point night from Jackson. He finished 5-of-9 from the field, while adding five rebounds. Young notched his first double-double of the season, totaling 15 points and 10 rebounds. Joyce finished the day with 16 points, while Weldon didn’t miss a shot on his way to a 15-point night. Lalor led all reserves with eight points.
With the win, the Bison finish the non-conference portion of the schedule a perfect 4-0 against Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) teams. Earlier in the season Bethany also defeated Mount Union, Ohio Northern and Baldwin Wallace. In the four games against the OAC, Bethany has outscored its counterparts 78.0-65.2, and has forced teams into 17.5 turnovers per game.
Bethany will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 18, as they travel to Washington, Pa. for a Presidents’ Athletic Conference meeting with Washington & Jefferson. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.