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PAC LEAD ON THE LINE WEDNESDAY WHEN BETHANY HOSTS THIEL
Jan. 31 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The top spot in the PAC will be on the line Wednesday night when the Bethany College men’s basketball team (14-5, 7-2) hosts current league leader Thiel (13-6, 8-1) at Hummel Field House in an 8 p.m. tip-off.
With three weeks left in the regular season, the chase for the top seed in the PAC Tournament looks like it could go down to the wire, especially if the Bison pick up a win Wednesday. Thiel is currently out front, with Bethany and Thomas More (11-8, 7-2) a game back and Saint Vincent lurking in third place at 6-3. Thomas More will host Geneva Wednesday in a game that does not count in the league standings and Saint Vincent is at home for Washington & Jefferson, who knocked off the Bearcats in their first meeting at W&J.
Bethany continued its recent roll by pocketing a 75-63 triumph over visiting Geneva Saturday afternoon, giving BC a season sweep over the Golden Tornadoes. After trailing by two at halftime, the Green and White shot 50 percent in the second half and held the GTs to 31 percent shooting to post the comeback victory. Geneva entered the game averaging nearly 80 points per game, but the 63 they posted on Saturday was their second-lowest total of the season, ahead of only the 62 they scored in their first loss to BC back on Dec. 11. Five Bison finished the day in double figures, led by junior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) and sophomores James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) and Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 15 each.
The Bison defense continues to impress as the regular season dwindles down. Although BC is allowing 64.4 points per game, most of that damage was done in the first semester. Since the calendar flipped to 2011, Bethany has held six of their eight opponents to 63 points or less and in nine conference games overall, the Bison are surrendering just 59.9 per game, second only to Thiel’s 57.8.
Bethany’s offensive attack has featured a heavy dose of Wilcox (fifth in PAC at 14.9 points per game) and Alexander (11th at 13.2), but a steady third option has emerged during the team’s current five-game winning streak. Barton is putting in 12.3 points during this victory stretch, with double digits in four of the wins. He has also cashed in 12-of-25 from the arc (48 percent) and is now hitting at a 45.6 percent clip from deep for the year, which is good enough to rank fourth in the PAC.
All three of BC’s top scorers recorded double digits in the initial meeting with Thiel back on Jan. 3, but the Tomcats would use a last-second bucket to pull out a 60-58 win. The Bison led by as many as 17 in the first half, but the Tomcats chopped away at the spread and there were five ties and nine lead changes in the second half. The final change occurred when Thiel’s Chace McKinney hit a jumper with two seconds left to lift the Tomcats to the two-point win. Alexander, who also grabbed 11 boards in the game, and Barton both scored 13 and Wilcox dropped in 11, but Blair Rozenblad posted game-highs of 20 points and 14 rebounds in the game.
After dropping two in a row, Thiel got back on track Saturday with a 53-44 win over Washington & Jefferson. The Tomcats also turned in a stellar defensive effort by forcing 21 W&J turnovers and holding them to 28 percent shooting. Rozenblad had 16 points and 10 boards for his ninth double-double of the season and Lance Randall chipped in with 11.
Rozenblad has earned three PAC Player of the Week awards and is nearly averaging a double-double with 16.7 points (third in PAC) and 9.6 rebounds (first) per game. He has also posted impressive games against the Bison, averaging 22.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in three match-ups. Rozenblad’s work on the glass, along with Aundra Jones (10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Ladell Trotty (10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds ), is why the Tomcats are first in the league in rebounding (+8.9). Rounding out the top Thiel scorers is point guard Devon Adams with 11.7 points, as well as 5.3 assists per game.