Bethany Rallies Late to Pull Out 63-59 Win over Olivet

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Trailing by three points with five minutes to play, the Bethany College men's basketball team closed the game with a 10-3 run to pull out a 63-59 victory over visiting Olivet Saturday night in the Bison's final game before the holiday break.

The start of the contest had the look of a Bethany runaway, as threes from senior Reece Mabery and junior Leslie Addy ignited an 11-0 run to open the game. The Comets didn't score their first points until the 13:44 mark, but BC kept rolling early and when junior Tyrone Smothers sank two foul shots with 6:54 left in the half, the Bison had their largest lead of the night at 28-11.

Olivet spent the rest of the half chipping away at the BC margin and the visitors, who closed the period with a 14-6 surge, had their deficit trimmed down to 34-25 by the intermission.

The team exchanged two baskets each to open the second half, but Olivet charged back into the game with a big run. Leading scorer Garner Small fired in eight points to spark an 18-8 run by the visitors that saw them take their first lead of the night at 47-46 with 12:22 left to play.

Bethany took the lead back on two Mabery foul shots and a short time later with the score tied again, a steal led to a lob pass from senior James Barton to Addy for the dunk that had BC back in front. That lasted until Olivet's next trip down the floor when T.J. Vondette sank two free throws to tie the game again and on their next possession, the Comets' Blake Krum buried a three to lift his team to a 56-53 advantage.

With the clock running under five minutes, the Bison began their rally. Senior Brady Pacific made a steal on one end and converted a lay-up on the other to make it a one-point spread. Then with less than two minutes remaining, a great pass by senior Nick Wilcox led to an easy bucket for Addy and the Bison were in front to stay.

After causing a turnover and then recovering an offensive rebound, Pacific got loose for another easy two, which was followed by a steal and breakaway dunk for Wilcox that had Bethany in front 61-56. A three by Olivet's DaunTrell Hill with seven seconds to play tightened the score again at 61-59, but Barton canned two free throws to clinch the narrow win for the Bison, which sent the Green and White into the holiday break on a high note.

Four Bison finished the night with double digit points, led by Pacific, who had 11 of his 15 in the opening stanza to help push BC out to the big lead. Next up with 14 points, was Addy, who also had nine rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Barton dropped in 11. Wilcox rounded out the top scorers with 10 points and hauled down 10 boards for his second straight double-double and third of the season.

For the Comets, Small and Krum both hit for 15 and Vondette came off the bench to chip in 10.

Bethany will return to action before ringing in the New Year with a trip to the Wittenberg Tournament Dec. 28-29. The Bison will take on the host Tigers in a first round game Friday the 28th at 7 p.m. Wittenberg (6-2), a traditional power in the Great Lakes Region, advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last year after making it to the second round in 2011.