Feb. 22 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s and women’s basketball teams will close out the regular season Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader against Washington & Jefferson. Game time for the women’s game is set for 2 p.m., while the men, who are celebrating their 100th season of basketball throughout the day, will tip-off at 4 p.m.
The opening game is a showdown for second place in the PAC. The Bison women (15-9, 10-3) have won five in a row, with the latest victory being a 53-50 triumph at Westminster Wednesday night. The Titans tied the game on a three-pointer with less than 15 seconds left, but BC pushed the ball up the floor and junior forward Susannah Cartland (Harvard, Ill.) hit a lay-up and was fouled with 5.1 seconds to go. Her free throw was good and the Bison extended their longest winning streak since capturing 18 in a row in 2003-04, the last time the Green and White won the PAC championship. Freshman Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) had 13 points and nine rebounds and Cartland finished with 12 against Westminster.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, the Bison women will have a home game next Tuesday in the PAC Quarterfinals. Their opponent will not be determined until after the other conference games are completed Saturday, but BC does know they will take on Chatham, Grove City or Thiel. The Bison swept all three teams during the regular season, including an 11-point home victory over Thiel and single-digit wins over Chatham and Grove City at Hummel Field House.
Bethany needs a victory to not only claim the #2 seed but also split the season series with W&J. The Presidents recorded a 71-61 win over the Bison in their first meeting Jan. 23. BC trailed by as many as 17 in the second half but sliced the deficit to 58-56 with 4:35 to play. W&J would hang on for the victory behind Kennan Killeen, who knocked down all 10 of her foul shots in the final minutes to help the Presidents hang on for the win. Bethany was led by senior guard Lisa Mitchell (Burgettstown, Pa./Avella) with 18 and freshman guard Kelly Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) with 15. Pacing W&J was Maggie Gibson with 26 points and nine rebounds and Emily Hays with 19.
Hays was also the Presidents’ leading scorer with 11 in their 54-38 victory at Waynesburg Wednesday. W&J led by just four (20-16) at halftime but forced 29 Yellow Jacket turnovers in the game to gradually pull away. Killeen finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and six assists in the win, which was the Presidents’ fifth in their last six games.
W&J’s attack is charged by their inside game of Gibson and Hays. Gibson is averaging 11.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and is shooting 63.7 percent from the floor, the fifth-best percentage in the country. Hays is the other President totaling double figures with 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Killeen is the team’s floor general, as she is second in the league in assists with 3.8 and first in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.13).
The men’s game between the Bison and Presidents does mean anything in the league standings. Bethany (15-9, 9-2) clinched the conference regular season championship last week and is locked in as the #1 seed. W&J (11-13, 7-4) has clinched the three seed and a home game in the PAC Quarterfinals on Tuesday against Thiel. The contest is likely to be a tight one however, as it’s the 158th meeting all-time between the schools, the longest running rivalry in the PAC, and the last three match-ups have each been decided by three points.
In the first meeting, Bethany rallied from a five-point deficit in overtime to record an 86-83 victory. Senior guards Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) and Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) had 27 and 23 points respectively, and combined to score all 13 in the extra period. W&J was led by Albert Varacallo with 23 and Wahab Owolabi with 22.
That Bison win came in the middle of an eight-game winning streak, but BC lost for the second time in the last three games Wednesday when they were knocked off at Westminster 79-77. Jackson had 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds, but missed the first of two free throws with no time left that could have tied the game. Tallying 14 points for Bethany were junior guard Carey Palermo (Youngstown, Ohio/Ursuline) and Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park).
Bethany dropped the contest despite hitting 14 three-pointers, their most in a loss this year. Over the last five games, BC has averaged 13.2 treys. Due to their recent hot streak from the perimeter, the Bison have climbed to fourth in the country with 10.5 triples per contest.
W&J enters Saturday with wins in four of their last five games, including an 86-62 triumph at Waynesburg Wednesday night. The Presidents trailed by seven at the half, but shot 62 percent in the second half and held the Yellow Jackets to 28 points in the final 20 minutes to claim the win. Center Josip Lucic-Jozak had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Owolabi finished with 19 for W&J.
Even though he comes off the bench, Lucic-Jozak is having a big year for the Presidents. He is 11th in the PAC with 15.1 points per game and second in the league in rebounds with 8.4. Varacallo (12.6) and Owolabi (12.4) also average in double figures and with Lucic-Jozak and Owolabi (8.4 rpg.) on the glass, W&J is the top team in the PAC in rebounding margin at +5.4.