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PAC ROAD BEGINS WEDNESDAY FOR BISON MEN AT GROVE CITY
Nov. 29 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After running through four non-conference games without a setback, the Bethany College men’s basketball team will open up PAC competition Wednesday night with a road game at Grove City. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
The Bison are off to their best start in 45 years, as they improved to 4-0 with a dominating 86-61 win over Pitt-Greensburg Saturday. It was just a two-point spread in BC’s favor at halftime, but a 31-2 run in the second half sent Bethany to the victory that gave the program its best start since the 1966-67 season when the team started the campaign 6-0.
Junior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) paced all scorers in the game with 23 points and the 5-10 guard is filling up the basket at a prolific rate so far this year. He is third in the conference with 17.3 points per game and has a PAC-best 12 three-pointers so far. The Bison also have the most accurate long-range shooter in the league on their roster, as junior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski Area), who is second on the team with 13.8 points per game, is shooting at a 67 percent (8-12) clip from the arc to lead all conference shooters.
The Bison, who are second in the PAC in scoring with 77.8 pints per game, have four scorers averaging in double digits and two others with over nine points per game. Junior guard Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) is right behind Pacific with 13.5 points per game and junior forward Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) is pumping in 11.3 markers a contest. The Bison are the only team in the PAC to score 70 or more points in every game this year and in the three seasons since head coach Andrew Sachs took over on the sideline, BC is 35-7 when they score over 70 in a contest.
While Bethany may be second in scoring offense, no one is better so far this season in the turnover battle. Not only is BC forcing the most turnovers in the PAC with 22.5, they have also committed just 10.0 miscues per contest, also the best in the league. The Bison turned it over just six times in an opening game victory over Allegheny and had only seven turnovers in the Pitt-Greensburg triumph.
Wednesday’s tilt will be the 83rd all-time meeting between Bethany and Grove City, who have combined to win seven of the last nine PAC titles. The Wolverines lead the series 46-36, but the Bison have held the upper hand recently, winning six of the last eight match-ups. Last year, BC swept the season series, including a 59-43 victory on the road at Grove City. Senior British Alexander (Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood Madison) amassed 17 points and nine rebounds for the Bison, who shot just 38 percent in the win but harassed GCC into 27 turnovers.
After winning the PAC title in 2010, Grove City was hit hard by graduation and went through a 5-21 rebuilding season last year. The youthful Wolverines, who have 11 freshmen on the roster, are off to a quick 3-1 start and are finding ways to pull out close games. After winning the opener in decisive fashion against Penn State-Altoona 94-71, Grove City lost to Mount Union in overtime, beat Pitt-Greensburg by one (59-58) and knocked off Kenyon in double overtime 84-75 in their last action.
In the Kenyon win, GCC made up for 1-for-13 shooting from the arc by making 25-of-37 from the foul line and committing just 11 turnovers in 50 minutes of action. Senior center Kris Verderber racked up 20 points, while junior guard Brett Matson amassed 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists and junior forward Nate Rambacher went for 11 points and seven boards.
The Wolverines are also balanced offensively, with Verderber leading the way at 14.0 points per game and freshman guard J.T. Schwartz posting 10 points an outing. Matson is scoring 9.3 per game and Rambacher’s totals include 8.5 points, a team-best 6.5 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 60.0, which is third-highest in the PAC.