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Red-Hot Bison Take Sting Out of Yellow Jackets

Dec. 21 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College men’s basketball team (9-0, 3-0 PAC) used a dominant first-half performance, and then held on late, to defeat Baldwin Wallace University 60-58 on Saturday.

Bethany notched the first four points of the game, before the Yellow Jackets ran off nine straight points to take a 9-4 advantage with 14:25 to play in the first stanza.

Lawrence Weldon (Baltimore, Md./Poly) rattled off the next five points, including a layup at the 13:43 mark, to knot the game at 9-9. The teams then traded three-point baskets to tie the game at 12-12 with 13:12 left.

With the game knotted at 12, the Bison put together a 12-0 run that spanned the next five minutes of play. Tyrone Smothers (Baltimore, Md./Mergenthaler) sparked the run with a lay-in, which was followed by back-to-back threes by Delonte’ Joyce (Annapolis, Md./Annapolis) and Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Palloti).

On Baldwin Wallace’s next position, Weldon picked the pocket of the Yellow Jacket point guard and took it the other way for two more points. Then, Ramel Young (Walterboro, S.C./Estill) notched his first basket of the game to give the Bison a 12-point lead (24-12) with 8:27 remaining in the half.

Baldwin Wallace would cut into the lead a couple of times in the frame, but would get no closer than eight points (33-25) on a layup by Kyle Payne with 3:16 to go. The Bison would finish the half on an 8-2 run to take a 42-27 lead into the break.

Bethany dominated the first half, shooting 44 percent from the field, which included 5-of-10 from beyond the three-point line. The Bison also outmuscled the Yellow Jackets in the frame, outrebounding BW 28-14 in the first stanza, which included 13 offensive rebounds.

In the second frame, the Bison pushed their lead to 17 points (46-29) on a layup by Joyce with 16:53 remaining. It was then, however, that the Yellow Jackets made things interesting. Over the next 14 minutes, Baldwin Wallace put together a 26-9 run to knot the game at 55-55 with 2:57 remaining.

Over the 14-minute game-changing run, the Yellow Jackets knocked down six three-pointers. Grant Fairhurst and Kevin Krakowiak combined for 20 of the team’s 26 in that run, which included all of the triples that the Yellow Jackets converted. Fairhurst’s fourth three of the run knotted the game at 55-55 with just 2:57 to play.

On Bethany’s next possession, Joyce made an acrobatic play, beating his defender baseline and laying the ball in around two more defenders to give the Bison a two-point lead (57-55) with 2:18 remaining.

After a layup by Addy extended the Bison lead to four points (59-55), Fairhurst hit his fifth triple of the half to cut the Bethany advantage to one (59-58) with under a minute to play.

Bethany was unable to convert on the offensive end and the Yellow Jackets had the ball with 25 seconds remaining. However, the Bison defense applied the pressure, and Joyce forced a turnover with five seconds remaining.

Following back-to-back fouls by BW, Addy sank a free-throw to give the Bison a 60-58 advantage with three seconds to play. Baldwin Wallace had time for one final attempt at the bucket, but was again unable to get a shot off, as Addy stole the ball away from Jaron Crowe to give Bethany the two-point victory (60-58).

Despite scoring just 18 points in the second half, the Bison came away with their ninth victory in a row, which is the second time in the last three seasons that Bethany has won at least nine games to start the season (program notched 10 victories at the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign).

Offensively, Bethany was led by a 20-point performance by Joyce, marking his second 20-point game of the season. Joining Joyce in double figures was Weldon, who notched 11 in the win. Weldon also finished the game with six assists, three steals and five rebounds.

As a team, the Bison forced the Yellow Jackets into 17 turnovers, and outrebounded BW by 10 (42-32). The team also hit the glass effectively on the offense side of the court, tying a season-high in offensive boards with 17.

Bethany will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 29, as they take on Penn State Behrend at the Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament hosted by Case Western Reserve University. The contest is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip.