Bethany falls to Thomas More in PAC Tournament Championship, 78-73

Bethany falls to Thomas More in PAC Tournament Championship, 78-73

Andrew Woodley, Sports Information Director

CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. (Feb. 24) - The Bethany College men's basketball team was dealt a 78-73 loss by Thomas More in the championship game of the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Tournament Saturday night at the Connor Center.

The Bison move to 16-12 overall and will wait to see if they are awarded a bid into the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament next week. Meanwhile, the Saints improve to 23-5 and earn the PAC automatic-qualifier into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Senior guard Calique Jones (Pittsburgh, Pa./Obama Academy) led Bethany with 22 points and added five rebounds. Senior guard Andrew Williams (Oil City, Pa./Oil City) finished with 14 points on 50 percent shooting (5-of-10), sophomore forward Chaice Truex (Wheeling, W.Va./St. John's Central (Ohio)) tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while freshman guard Trey Shifflett (York, Pa./William Penn) added 10 points and three steals in the loss.

Bethany struggled early from the field and was held without a point for the first five minutes of the game. A Shifflett three-point shot broke the Bison through and started a run of seven-unanswered to tie the game at 7-7 with 13:44 remaining in the first half. Both teams exchanged a pair of three pointers, before Thomas More opened up a 10-point lead, 25-15, with the help of a 12-2 spurt.

Jones helped the Bison get going with a pair of baskets, including a trey, to pull Bethany within five, 25-20, near the five minute-mark of the opening period. The Saints rebuilt their lead to double-digits, 39-27, with 1:51 left in the first half, but the Bison managed to get within eight points, 41-33, entering halftime.

Bethany came out of the locker rooms fast. The Bison opened the second half with a 12-3 run to take its first lead of the game at 45-44 with 17:04 remaining in regulation. The contest became a game of runs, with Thomas More going ahead 50-45, only to see the Bison answer with seven-unanswered to take a 52-50 lead with 11:38 to play in the game.

The score was tied at 54-54, when the Bison got a put-back layup by sophomore Kindhal Taylor (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) and a fast-break layup by Jones that gave Bethany its largest lead of the night, 58-54, with 7:49 remaining in the game. Thomas More answered once again and went on a 14-3 run, capped off by a Damion King three-pointer, to take a 68-61 lead with 1:29 left in on the clock. Bethany managed to slice the Saints' lead down to four, 72-68, with the help of a Jones' trey, but Thomas More managed to convert each of its eight free-throw attempts in the final minute to seal the game.

Bethany finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field (29 of 70). Thomas More shot 57 percent in the first half (17 of 29), but settled in at 48 percent (29 of 60) for the game. The Saints were efficient from long range, knocking down 9-of-18 attempts.

The Bison only committed seven turnovers for the game and forced 11 on defense, which led directly to 20 points. 

Three players scored in double-figures for Thomas More, led by Damion King, who finished with game-highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Bethany will find out its ECAC Tournament fate on Monday afternoon.