Behind a sterling defensive effort that forced 29 turnovers and held Thiel to 33 percent shooting, the Bethany College men's basketball team grabbed sole possession of first place in the PAC with a 64-43 win over the previously undefeated Tomcats Saturday.
Following the McCaskill basket, the Bison (7-1, 4-0) scored the next 11 points and controlled the rest of the half. Back-to-back lay-ups from Wilcox and junior Leslie Addy pushed Bethany to its largest lead of the half at 22-9. The Tomcats managed to cut into the deficit some by the break, but a bucket by junior Kevin Jackson in the final minute sent BC to the locker room with a 26-17 advantage.
The Tomcats scored the first two points of the second half, but it was answered immediately by a Jackson score and threes from Addy and Wilcox to take the Bison lead to 34-20 and Bethany's lead was in double digits the rest of the way. A string of seven straight points around the seven-minute mark, highlighted by a pair of hoops from senior Brady Pacific, swelled the BC cushion to 58-35 and the Green and White cruised to the finish, as they shot 52 percent (17-33) in the second half.
The Bethany defense keyed the victory. In holding its opponent to its lowest point total this season, the Bison harassed Thiel into 29 turnovers that were converted into 26 points. The Tomcats also made just 15-of-46 attempts from the field, including 18 percent (2-11) of its tries from the arc.
As for the Bison attack, Wilcox bounced back in a big way after missing Wednesday's win over Geneva because of illness. He netted 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second and also tacked on seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Addy just missed his second double-double in a row with 12 points and nine rebounds, but chipped in six assists. Completing the double-digit scorers for BC was Pacific with 10 off the bench.
The Tomcats were paced by Chace McKinney with a dozen points and A.J. Forbes, who scored nine and hauled down 11 boards to match Ladell Trotty for game-high honors.
The win, coupled with Washington & Jefferson's 92-82 win at previously undefeated Thomas More Saturday, will send Bethany into the holiday break alone in first place in the conference. The Bison will close out the first semester schedule with a pair of home non-conference tilts this week, beginning Tuesday night when they host Frostburg State at 7 p.m.