The top-seeded and 25th-ranked Bethany College men's basketball team shot 59 percent (16-27) in the second half to finally pull away from an upset-minded Waynesburg squad and earn an 82-69 victory Tuesday night in the PAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
With the victory, the Bison improve to 23-3 overall and advance to a Thursday night semifinal against #7 Washington & Jefferson at Nutting Gymnasium. The Presidents pulled a stunner in Tuesday's quarterfinals, knocking off #2 Thiel on the road 91-89.
The opening half went back and forth between BC and the Yellow Jackets (5-22), who were coming off a 63-57 victory at Westminster in Monday's play-in game. There were six ties and five lead changes, with Waynesburg leading by as many as six at 22-16 midway through the period. A quick 8-2 burst by the Green and White tied the score and Bethany then scored nine of the final 12 points of the stanza to take the lead for good. A follow-up dunk by senior British Alexander and hoop by junior Nick Wilcox sent the Bison into the break with a 36-30 lead.
Scores by Alexander and Wilcox highlighted six consecutive points that pushed the BC lead to 42-30 to open the second half. But the Yellow Jackets wouldn't go away, as they sliced their deficit down to seven. Bethany finally looked like they seized control with a 15-5 surge and when Wilcox finished a traditional three-point play with six minutes to go, the Bison had their largest lead of the night at 71-54.
Once again, Waynesburg would mount a come back, using a pair of Lou Galante treys to spark an 11-1 run that brought the upstart Jackets within seven at 72-65 with 2:14 to play. But Bethany would secure the win and the spot in the semifinals by going 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final 1:26 and also using a breakaway dunk by sophomore Leslie Addy, as BC won its 21st consecutive game over Waynesburg dating back to the 2003 season.
Five players scored in double figures for the Bison and two had double-doubles. Wilcox finished with 21 points, 10 boards and four blocks, while Alexander totaled 15 markers and 10 rebounds. Junior Brady Pacific chipped in 17 off the bench and juniors James Barton and Reece Mabery both netted 11. Barton also added four assists and four steals.
Turnovers doomed the Yellow Jackets' upset chances, as 23 miscues were converted into 20 BC points. Leading Waynesburg's attack was Jacob Fleegle with 17 points and Galante with 12.
Thursday's PAC semifinal between Bethany, who entered the D3Hoops.com Top 25 poll Monday for the first time in program history, and W&J is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The Bison swept the Presidents in their regular season meetings, winning 79-60 in Washington and 81-49 at home.