Jan. 7 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s and women’s basketball teams will host their first doubleheader of the new year Wednesday when Saint Vincent (Pa.) College comes to Hummel Field House. The women’s game is scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m., with the men slated to take the floor at 8 p.m.
The contests will not count in the PAC standings, as the Bearcats are in their second season of transitioning to NCAA Division III status from NAIA.
The Bison women (5-5) will try to move over the .500 mark Wednesday with their game against Saint Vincent. BC improved to 2-1 in the PAC Saturday with an 80-75 victory at Thiel (Pa.) College. After taking a 13-point halftime lead, the Green and White used a 10-1 spurt early in the second half to build a 56-33 advantage. The Tomcats would rally to trim the lead to three in the final two minutes, but four foul shots from senior guard Lisa Mitchell (Burgettstown, Pa./Avella) in the last 23 seconds secured the win for Bethany.
Mitchell, who finished the game a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, notched 20 points and nine rebounds in the victory. Also pacing the Bison in scoring and on the glass, where BC posted a 54-40 advantage for the game, was junior Renee Brandenburg (Avella, Pa.) with 16 points and nine rebounds and freshman Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio), who tallied her first career double-double with 15 markers and 15 boards.
The game marked just the third time this season Bethany registered a rebounding advantage and improved BC to 3-0 in those contests. The other occasions were in the Bison’s two victories over Penn State Behrend. In the Nov. 16 season opener, BC was +5 in the glass (61-56) in a 70-67 double-overtime win. Then in an 81-70 triumph Nov. 25, Bethany out-rebounded the Lions by a 44-38 count.
Rebounding will play a large factor in the winner of Wednesday’s match-up. While Bethany ranks ninth in the league in rebounding margin (-2.0), the Bearcats are the only team below BC. They have been out-rebounded in 10 of their 11 games and are losing the battle on the boards by an average of 9.5 per contest. Saint Vincent has proven to be especially susceptible to giving up offensive caroms, as teams are hauling down their own misses by an average of 16 per game.
The Bearcats will bring a 3-8 record into Hummel Field House and are 2-2 against PAC foes this season. However, they have dropped three consecutive decisions, including a 53-45 loss at Geneva (Pa.) College Saturday. Although SVC shot 93 percent (13-14) from the foul line, they hit just 25 percent (15-59) from the floor, including a frigid 14 percent (2-14) from the arc. Despite being out-rebounded 52-37, Bearcat center Caryn Glassbrenner managed a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
One possible reason for Saint Vincent’s recent struggles is that Laura Klimchock just returned to their line-up Saturday after missing the previous four games. Last year’s PAC scoring leader with 22.5 points per game, the 5-8 senior guard posted seven points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in the loss to Geneva. For the season, she is averaging 13.6 points per game and shooting 82 percent (28-34) from the foul line.
Klimchock’s impact can be seen in her performances during last year’s Saint Vincent wins over Bethany, as she averaged 22 points, six assists, 4.5 rebounds and four steals. In SVC’s 73-72 win at Bethany last February, she scored 24 points, including the game-winning free throws with 14 seconds to play. Klimchock isn’t the only Bearcat who had big games against BC last year, as guard Janelle Reed averaged 18 points, 7.5 steals and 6.0 rebounds in the two-game sweep.
In the nightcap, Bethany’s men are also looking to go over the .500 mark. They moved to 6-6 overall and 2-1 in the PAC by defeating Thiel 69-65 Saturday in Greenville. The Bison led by 14 in the second half, but the Tomcats came back to take a one-point lead with 2:31 to play. BC regained the lead on a lay-up by senior guard Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy) with 1:19 remaining, then went 5-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch to clinch their 10th consecutive victory over Thiel.
Leading the Bison offense in scoring for the eighth time this season was senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester), who scored 15 points off four three-pointers and three foul shots in the final minute. Freshman guard Dakota Matz (Zanesville, Ohio) matched his career-high with 14 markers off the bench, while sophomore Ryan Besancon (Wooster, Ohio/Waynedale) nearly had a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Jackson will be attempting to duplicate his success against the Bearcats again this season. Last year, the 6-0 guard averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in a pair of Bison wins. Jackson hit seven treys and tallied a career-high 33 points in BC’s 107-105 double-overtime win in Latrobe. Bethany would also knock off Saint Vincent at home with a 76-73 triumph late in the year as James Wallace delivered 18 points.
Saint Vincent will carry an 8-3 record to the home of the Bison Wednesday, although they have dropped two of their last three games after starting the season 7-1. The Bearcats suffered a 92-88 overtime loss at Geneva Saturday. SVC led 44-38 at halftime, but Geneva rallied to force overtime, then scored the final eight points in the extra session to claim the win. Saint Vincent had four players in double digits, including Joey Butler (20), Billy Bains (16), Ian McCollough (13) and Tre’sor Kalambay (11).
SVC, who owns the highest scoring offense in the conference at 82.8 points per game, features six players who are scoring eight or more per game. Two members of the Bearcats are pouring in double figures, including the 6-3 swingman McCollough (18.2) and Butler, a 6-2 guard who is netting 15.0 points per game in his first year at Saint Vincent after transferring from Division I Mount St. Mary’s. McCollough (7.6) and Butler (5.7) also lead the way on the glass, where the Bearcats are ranked first in the PAC in rebounding margin (+5.5).
Although they have won eight of their first 11 games, two of Saint Vincent’s three losses have come against PAC competition. In addition to the loss to Geneva, a team Bethany knocked off 96-81 on Dec. 8, SVC suffered an 81-72 setback at Westminster (Pa.) College Dec. 1. The Bearcats are 1-2 on the year against league teams, as they defeated Waynesburg (Pa.) University 89-66 the same day the Bison beat Geneva.