The Bethany College men's basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to outscore visiting Franciscan 50-15 in the second half and pull away for a 94-46 triumph Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Bison, who are the first team among Others Receiving Votes in the D3Hoops.com Top 25 preseason poll, won their season opener for the third straight year. It was also the largest margin of victory in an opening game in 102 years since Bethany defeated Franklin 63-15 to start the 1910 campaign.
Although the two teams both shot a respectable 43 percent in the first half, they also combined for 22 turnovers in a sloppy half of basketball. The BC lead was just four early on but consecutive treys from seniors Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) and Reece Mabery (right - Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) pushed the margin out to 19-9. The Bison's biggest lead came at the halftime buzzer, as a put back by freshman Nate Weldon (Las Vegas, Nev./Cimmaron) as the horn sounded sent the home team to the locker room with a 44-31 advantage.
Bethany went right to work to pull away in the second half, as the Green and White scored the first 13 points after the intermission, which started a 20-1 surge. Wilcox powered the run with a trio of three-pointers and the Bison continued to pull away through the period. By the end of the night, 12 of the 14 Bison who played in the game had scored at least two points and Bethany had amassed a 56-22 rebounding advantage.
Leading all scorers in the game was Wilcox with 19 markers and he added eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Also hitting double figures was Mabery with 11, while freshman Aaron Ashley (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) also notched 11 in just 12 minutes of action. The BC dominance on the glass was paced by Weldon with 11 boards, as well as eight points, while junior forward Kevin Jackson (right - Baltimore, Md./Walbrook) posted eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
For Franciscan, Christian Duke and Tim Schenk both had 10 points.
The Bison will have a short turnaround to get ready for their next game, as they travel to Baldwin Wallace (Ohio) College Saturday for 3 p.m. tip-off. Bethany edged the Yellow Jackets 72-65 at home a season ago as part of BC's 10-0 start to the season.