Presidents Topple Bison In PAC Quarterfinals
BETHANY, W. Va. – Fifth-seeded Washington & Jefferson College scored the final 14 points of the game to overcome an eight-point deficit and upset fourth-seeded Bethany 70-64 in the quarterfinal round of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Tournament Tuesday at Nutting Gymnasium.
W&J (9-17) advanced to its sixth PAC Tournament semifinal game in seven years under Head Coach Glenn Gutierrez. The semifinal round will be played Thursday night (7:00 pm) at top-seeded Saint Vincent.
The Presidents trailed 64-56 after Brady Pacific drained a three-pointer with 5:11 left in the second half, but W&J held Bethany (16-10) scoreless for the remainder of the game. Sophomore point guard Doug Johnson (Greensburg, Pa./Greater Latrobe) jumpstarted W&J’s run with a triple and classmate Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) tied the game with a three of his own two minutes later.
Johnson gave W&J its first lead of the second half with a layup and senior forward Ben Cecchini (Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown) and Nate Bellhy followed with buckets to secure the win.
The Presidents, who were swept in the season series by Bethany, including a 74-63 home loss on Saturday, stormed out of the gates in the first half with eight-straight points, eventually pushing the lead to 23-5 at the 14:25 mark. W&J connected on nine of its first 11 shots, including a 5-of-6 mark from beyond the arc.
Bethany chipped away at the Presidents’ edge by scoring 28 of the game’s next 32 points over the next 12 minutes and took its first lead at 30-27 when Nick Wilcox drilled a three-pointer to cap a 16-0 Bison spurt.
Nate Bellhy ended the surge with a steal and a fastbreak dunk, but James Barton answered with Bethany eighth triple of the first half to give the Bison a 36-31 lead after 20 minutes.
Reece Mabery pushed the Bison lead to 10 (50-40) at the second half’s midway point, but Johnson started a Presidents’ rally with a three-point play. Bellhy followed with a layup and then brought W&J to within two points (52-50) by draining a triple.
Bethany countered with nine of the next 11 points, but Johnson’s three-pointer with 4:47 to play began the final rally that decided the game.
Johnson netted a game-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-6 3PT), while Bellhy recorded 18 points and seven rebounds for W&J, which shot 51 percent (28-55) and canned nine triples. Senior guard Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) added 11 points and Cecchini contributed 16.
Mabery led BC with 18 points. The Bison connected on 11 three-pointers and shot 40 percent (23-57) during the game. Bethany saw its record in PAC Tournament home games drop to 17-2 all-time with both losses coming to W&J (78-75 in 2007 and tonight).