Dec. 16 WBB vs. Hiram (L, 69-64); Dec. 17 MBB vs. St. John Fisher (L, 79-70); Dec. 31 MBB vs. Ohio Northern (1:00 p.m.)

BISON SET TO OPEN PAC PLAY SATURDAY AGAINST THOMAS MORE

Nov. 29 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College men’s and women’s basketball teams will open the PAC portion of their schedules Saturday when they host Thomas More (Ky.) College in a doubleheader. The women will start the day off with a 2 p.m. tip-off, while the men will begin at 4 p.m.

Bethany’s women will enter Saturday’s contest with a 3-3 mark following a 74-63 loss at Marietta (Ohio) College Wednesday. The Bison led by two at halftime and held a three-point advantage midway through the second half, but the Pioneers used a 19-4 run to gain control and go on to the win. Freshman Kelly Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) paced the BC efforts with 19 points, eight rebounds and five steals.

Kelly Goode also leads Bethany in scoring for the year, as she is tallying 12.8 markers a game, while also recording a team-high 2.5 steals per game. Senior guard Lisa Mitchell (Burgettstown, Pa./Avella) is the only other Bison in double digits with 11.8 points. BC’s major problem again this season is turnovers, as they are averaging over 24 miscues per game.

Although they’ve had issues taking care of the basketball, the Bison defense has done its part to make up for it. Opponents are shooting just 37 percent from the floor and Bethany is forcing 21.5 turnovers per game as well.

In the opener, the Bison women will not only be taking on the defending league champions, but Thomas More is also 4-0 this year and has vaulted to 14th in the nation, according to this week’s USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll. The Saints earned their high ranking by winning their own tournament last weekend, which included a 65-59 victory over the second-ranked defending national champions, DePauw (Ind.) University. TMC’s Amanda Link came off the bench to hit 9-of-10 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from the arc, for 22 points in the win.

Offensively, Thomas More has a balanced attack, with five players scoring nine or more points per game. They are led by guard Jayme Thiem, who transferred from Division I Eastern Kentucky University, with 13.8 points per contest and she is also shooting 96 percent (23-24) from the foul line. Other double figure scorers include Nicole Dickman at 12.3 and Link at 11.0. Forward Tandrea Sellers is putting up 9.8 points and a team-leading 5.8 rebounds per game.

Last season on their way to the conference crown, Thomas More knocked off the Bison three times, including a 62-49 decision in the PAC Tournament semifinals, a game BC led by a bucket with 14 minutes to play.

Game two will feature a Bethany men’s team trying to win its conference opener for the fifth consecutive year. The Bison (3-2) primed for Saturday game with a 93-75 victory over Ohio-Eastern Wednesday on the second night of the Wendy’s Classic at West Liberty State. Sophomore forward Joe Testa (Amity, Pa./Trinity) posted game-highs of 18 points and nine rebounds, while senior guard Brody Jackson (Akron, Ohio/Manchester), who also had a career-high nine assists, and junior guard Tyler Morando (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) both had 13.

A Second Team All-PAC selection a season ago, Jackson is off to another strong start this year. He is scoring 18.4 points per game and shooting 54 percent from the field (34-63). His play in the backcourt is complimented by senior Marcus Adams (Columbus, Ohio/Mount Vernon Academy), who is totaling 9.0 points, a PAC-leading 7.0 assists and 3.8 steals per game, while Morando is hitting 55.6 percent of his shots from the arc (10-18) and scoring 8.8 markers a game.

Bethany’s attack isn’t just limited to the perimeter. Inside, junior Petre Petkovski (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) is tallying 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and Testa is making major contributions off the bench with 10.6 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds a contest. Both Petkovski (59.2) and Testa (50.0) are shooting well from the floor, which has helped BC shoot 49 percent through the first five games.

The Bison will be taking on an improved Thomas More squad, who is off to a 2-3 start after finishing last season 3-23. The Saints opened the year by winning two of their first three, but have dropped two straight, including a 76-61 setback at unbeaten Wilmington (Ohio) College Wednesday. TMC fell behind 17-2 to start the game but rallied to tie the score at 40 early in the second half. However, the Quakers scored nine straight to seize momentum and went on to pick up the victory. Coming off the bench to notch a game-high 15 for the Saints was Eddie Brown, while Brad Buckner tallied 14.

Thomas More’s leading scorer is Mark Tinklenberg, who is putting up 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The Saints’ other double digit scorer is Matty Owens, who is nearly averaging a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds per game. Owens fired in 22 in TMC’s 84-75 season-opening victory over Anderson (Ind.) University.

This is Thomas More’s third season in the PAC and since joining the league, they have lost all four contests to Bethany. The Bison swept last season’s series with 70-64 and 74-65 triumphs. Overall, Bethany leads the series with the Saints 5-4.