Feb. 5 - BETHANY, W.Va. – With just three weeks left before the PAC Tournaments, the Bethany College men’s and women’s basketball teams start down the home stretch Wednesday when they host Thiel (Pa.) College at Hummel Field House. The women’s game opens the evening at 6 p.m. and the men will take the floor at 8 p.m.
Game two of the twinbill will feature the Bison men (13-7, 7-1) trying to stay a game in front of Grove City (13-7, 6-2) for the top spot in the conference. Bethany captured their seventh victory in a row Saturday night with a convincing 87-62 triumph at Geneva. The BC shooters were on the mark from deep, canning 16-of-29 attempts from the arc, including 10 in the first half. Senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester) drilled five treys and finished with 21, while junior forward Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) hit a trio of triples and totaled 17 points and eight rebounds.
The game was the 10th time this season Jackson has scored 20 or more in a contest and also pushed him over a career milestone. With his final basket of the night, he surpassed the 1,000 point plateau for his career (1,001), becoming the 21st men’s player in Bethany history to reach that achievement. The 6-0 guard is also climbing his way up the career three-point chart at the school. His 66 threes this year give him 189 for his career, which is fifth in the BC record book. Jackson is 15 shy of passing Al Palsa, who hit 203 during his tenure from 1988-92, for fourth place on the list.
Although the Bison have averaged 12.1 three-pointers per game during their current seven-game winning streak, they’ve received quite a bit of production from their big men off the bench. In addition to Petkovski’s 17 points and eight boards against Geneva, sophomore forward Jonas Ankrom (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) amassed 12 markers and three rebounds off the bench as well. Having to play additional minutes because of foul trouble to starting forward Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale) and Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) over the last three games, Petkovski is averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and Ankrom is contributing 11.7 points and 3.7 boards. Despite the recent foul issues plaguing them, Besancon is still averaging 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds and Testa is putting up 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the season.
One of Besancon’s better games of the season came in BC’s first meeting with Thiel Jan. 5. The 6-6 forward finished with 13 point and nine rebounds as the Bison escaped Greenville with a 69-65 victory. Jackson led Bethany with 15 points that day and freshman guard Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) scored a career-high 14 off the bench. Despite 22 points from Devon Adams and 15 from Joe Herrmann, the Tomcats were unable to snap their losing streak to the Bison, which reached 10 games with the defeat.
That loss came in the middle of a five-game skid for the Tomcats (9-9, 4-4) back at the start of January. Since then, they have won four of six, including three straight triumphs. The most recent was an 82-66 non-league win over Franciscan. Although they committed 17 turnovers, Thiel recovered by shooting 51 percent from the floor and holding a huge 51-26 advantage on the boards. Guard Nick Sefcsik tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Herrmann also scored 15.
The Tomcats are both very efficient on offense, leading the PAC in field goal percentage (48.2), and very stingy on defense, forcing teams to shoot a conference-low 41.1 percent from the floor. Herrman paces the offensive efforts with 18.6 and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor. Other double digit scorers include Adams (12.1) and Tommy Hall (10.1) while Sefscik is averaging 9.4 points per game and is the team’s top threat from outside with 29 treys.
In Wednesday’s first game, the Bethany women (10-9, 6-3), who are in the third place in the PAC, will try to keep the heat on Washington & Jefferson (14-5, 7-2) for second place in the conference. The Bison were knocked off at Geneva Saturday by a 75-58 count, as the Golden Tornadoes used a 25-4 spurt in the second half to erase a one-point Bethany lead. Freshman Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) subbed in to score a career-high 18 and grab nine rebounds, while junior Kaitlyn McCormick (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Bison lost despite allowing just three three-pointers in the game, which marks the fifth consecutive contest that BC has not allowed a foe to hit more than five triples. Bethany has surrendered a PAC-low 56 three-pointers this season and teams are shooting just 23.6 percent from the arc. The Bison’s perimeter defense may be a factor in Wednesday’s game, as the Tomcats are third in the conference with 101 trifectas this season.
In the first meeting between these teams Jan. 5, Bethany’s three-point defense did play a role, as Thiel hit just 4-of-17 from deep in an 80-75 Green and White win. The Bison led by as many as 23 in the second half, only to see the Tomcats rally to get within three. However, BC senior guard Lisa Mitchell (Burgettstown, Pa./Avella) completed a perfect 10-for-10 day at the foul line with four free throws in the final minute to clinch the win. Mitchell led four scorers in double figures with 20, while Harris recorded her first career double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Thiel was led by Amber Bodrick with 20 points and 13 boards and Jasmin Jones with 15 points.
The Tomcats (7-11, 4-6) followed that loss to Bethany with an upset win at W&J. Since then however, TC have lost six of their last games, including two straight. On Saturday, Thiel led by nine at halftime and as many as 15 in the second half before a late Chatham comeback allowed the Cougars to score a 74-71 victory. Bodrick had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Catie Sieber fired in 15 for the Tomcats, who swished 10 threes in the game. However, Chatham was able to rally by knocking down 27-of-34 attempts from the foul line.
Bodrick is the main weapon the Bison must contend with Wednesday, as she is second in the PAC in scoring (19.4) and third in rebounding (9.9). Although she registered her fourth career double-double against Bethany in January, her 20 points that night was the lowest she’s tallied in five games against BC, who she is averaging 26.2 points and 11.8 rebounds against. Thiel’s offense also features Kim Stritt, who is averaging 8.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the floor, and Sieber, who is scoring 7.6 points per contest and shooting a team-high 36.2 percent from the arc (21-58).