The Bethany College men's basketball team has earned a postseason bid for the ninth consecutive season, as the fifth-seeded Bison will open the ECAC South Region Tournament Wednesday night at #4 LaRoche (Pa.) College in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
The ECAC quarterfinals will be Wednesday night on the campus of the four highest seeds. The winners of those games advance to the semifinals Saturday at the highest remaining seed, with the championship game to be played Sunday. The winner of the Bethany/LaRoche game will take on the winner of the quarterfinal match-up between #1 Albright (20-6) and #8 McDaniel (14-11). The other side of the bracket features #2 DeSales (21-6) hosting #7 Moravian (14-11) and #6 Medaille (18-10) traveling to #3 Juniata (18-9).
The Bison earned the program's fifth bid to the ECAC Tournament after finishing 16-10 and tied for third in the PAC regular season standings. The Green and White were knocked off in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament by Washington & Jefferson 70-64. Bethany led 64-56 with five minutes to play before the Presidents closed the game with a 14-0 run to send BC to just their second home loss in 19 PAC Tournament games. Senior Reece Mabery (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) scored a team-best 18 points and senior Brady Pacific (Avonmore, Pa./Kiski) netted 12 in the defeat.
Bethany features five players averaging in double digits, led by senior Nick Wilcox (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) with 12.7 markers a game. The 6-3 forward also leads the team with 7.9 rebounds and 3.2 steals per games. Mabery is next on the scoring charts with 12.4 a game, followed closely by senior James Barton (Bethel Park, Pa.) with 12,0, Pacific at 11.7 and junior forward Leslie Addy (Columbia, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) is scoring 10.6 points per game.
This will mark the eighth consecutive season Bethany has played in the postseason and first ECAC appearance since 2010. The Bison, who have played in the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years, advanced to the ECAC semifinals in 2010 when this year's seniors were freshmen. Wilcox totaled 11 points and five assists to help BC edge Neumann 70-68 in the opening round, but Bethany fell in the semifinals to eventual champion Penn State Behrend 67-65.
Bethany and LaRoche have played 15 times on the hardwood, but this will be the first since the 2009-10 season. The Bison lead the all-time series between the schools 9-6, but in the season opener that year and in the first game on the Bethany sideline for head coach Andrew Sachs, the Redhawks picked up a 66-58 victory. Wilcox, playing in his initial collegiate game, played all 40 minutes and finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and three steals. LaRoche has only two seniors on its roster and the only player left who played that night is forward Derek Barber-Richards, who posted eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
The Redhawks completed the year with a 16-10 overall record and a 14-4 mark in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) to tie for first place in the regular season standings. LaRoche was the second seed for the league tournament and earned a bye into the semifinals, where they were eliminated by eventual champion Penn State Behrend 55-48. The Redhawks led 30-23 at halftime, but shot just 27 percent (7-26) after the break as the Lions rallied for the victory. Barber-Richards and forward David Jackson scored 11 apiece to lead the effort.
The driving force for the Redhawks is their work on the glass, as they led the AMCC in rebounding margin at +7.6 and are second in the league with 14.3 offensive caroms per game. LaRoche is also solid defensively, ranking second in the league in points allowed (64.0) and third in field goal percentage defense (41.6). The team's top scorer is 6-6 senior forward Joel McIntosh with 11.7 points per game, while junior guard Lionel Perkins is scoring 11.3 points per game. Jackson leads the Redhawks assault on the boards, as he leads the AMCC with 9.0 rebounds a game and is also scoring 9.9 points per contest.