Presidents Go For Season Sweep Of Westminster Saturday
WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Washington & Jefferson College basketball teams open the second half of Presidents’ Athletic Conference play on Saturday at Westminster with both teams aiming for a sweep of the season series.
On November 28 in Washington, the Presidents’ men clipped the Titans 92-87 in overtime, while the W&J women erased a five-point halftime deficit to down Westminster 56-51.
Senior guard Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) paced four Presidents with double-figure scoring efforts by netting a season-high 31 points on 14-of-21 shooting during the teams’ first meeting. Sophomore Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) tallied 15 points and senior Ben Cecchini (Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown) accumulated 14, while sophomore Mike Resnik (White Oak, Pa./McKeesport) added 11 points off the bench.
The Titans stormed back from 10 points down with eight minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, but Zach Bellhy took over in the extra session with seven of W&J’s first 10 points to lift the team to victory. Bellhy enters Saturday’s rematch needing 10 points to vault into 10th place of W&J’s all-time scoring list. He also needs four three-pointers to move into fifth in career triples at the college.
The Presidents overcame a 40-point performance from the Titans’ Doug Smith. Smith drilled 10 three-pointers (tied for the second-best, single-game effort in Westminster history), while grabbing eight rebounds. Smith leads the PAC in triples (51) and is the league’s third-leading scorer (17.0 ppg). Westminster is 5-2 at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium, but it has lost six of its last seven games overall.
The Titans own a commanding 48-29 lead in the all-time series, but W&J has won four of the last five meetings in New Wilmington. The Presidents fell on the road to Westminster last year 73-60 despite 11 points off the bench from sophomore forward Mitch Locher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Avonworth).
Locher helped W&J bounce back from a Saturday loss to Bethany by recording a career-high 14 points during a 70-65 Presidents’ victory over Geneva on Wednesday. Locher canned 5-of-7 shots in 21 minutes of action, while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists. Zach Bellhy tallied his first double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and younger brother Nate added 17 points and nine boards.
W&J limited the Golden Tornadoes to 33 percent shooting (25-75), including just 4-of-27 (.148) from beyond the arc, the lowest percentage an opponent has shot from long distance this season.
The W&J women aim for their first five-game conference winning streak since January 2010 on Saturday against the Titans. The Presidents have outscored opponents by over 21 points per game, while limiting foes to just 25 percent (58-251) shooting, during their current streak.
W&J used an 18-2 run that spanned the final 8:48 of the first half to take command against Geneva on Wednesday night. Washington & Jefferson did not allow the Golden Tornadoes to close the gap during the second half and ran away with a 70-41 victory. Offensively, the Presidents received a balanced scoring effort with six players netting at least eight points. Sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) turned in her sixth double-double performance with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while junior point guard Kara Seamon (Morgantown, W. Va./University) also reached double figures in scoring with 10 points. Sophomore center Tori Bishop (Pittsburgh, Pa./Upper St. Clair) collected career-bests with eight points and nine rebounds for the Presidents, who shot 50 percent (28-56).
Dunlap blocked three Golden Tornado shots, upping her season total to 45 (third-highest, single-season total in school history). She ranks second in the PAC and 14th in NCAA Division III in blocked shots per game (2.8) and needs 12 more swats to move onto the top five career list at W&J.
Dunlap sparked a second-half rally to lift the Presidents to a 56-51 victory during the team’s first meeting with Westminster. She connected on 5-of-6 shots from both the field and the free-throw line for 15 of her game-high 17 points during the final 20 minutes, as W&J overcame a five-point halftime deficit. The Presidents held a 19-rebound advantage on the glass (46-27), aided by a game-high 14 rebounds from Dunlap.
Jenna Grandy came off the bench to lead the Titans with 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while the Presidents held leading scorer Katie Hughes to just eight points (3-14 FG) in 33 minutes of action.
Westminster has won two-straight games after losing four of its previous five. The Titans needed a 9-2 run at the end of regulation to send its game against Grove City to overtime on Wednesday. Jenn Cantella sank four free throws during the final seconds of the extra session to clinch a 54-51 victory.
W&J owns a slight 19-18 in the all-time series with Westminster. The Presidents had won four-consecutive games at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium until dropping last year’s contest 62-55. In 14 all-time matchups in New Wilmington, W&J has claimed six victories.
The Presidents remain on the road next Wednesday when facing Saint Vincent in Latrobe. The W&J women clipped the Bearcats 64-59 on Dec. 5, while the men fell to SVC 73-63.