W&J Basketball Teams Aim To Continue Winning Ways At Bethany
WASHINGTON, Pa. – After sweeping a Presidents’ Athletic Conference basketball doubleheader at Grove City on Wednesday, Washington & Jefferson College looks to keep that momentum going when facing Bethany on Saturday afternoon. The games will both be broadcasted live online via the PAC Sports Network (PACstream.net) beginning with the women’s matchup at 2:00 pm.
Both teams put forth strong defensive efforts against the Wolverines, as the women opened with a 54-40 victory, followed by the men’s 63-50 triumph. The teams both defeated GCC on the road during the same season for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign.
The Presidents women were led by Chelsea Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon), who netted 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting. The junior forward added nine rebounds, one block and one steal. Apke continues to lead the conference in rebounding (10.5 rpg), while ranking third in field-goal percentage (.523) and sixth in scoring (14.9 ppg).
Senior Emily Abraham (Canfield, Ohio/Boardman) added 12 points (3-7 3PT) and seven rebounds, while junior Kara Seamon (Morgantown, W. Va./University) netted six points and dished out four assists. Seamon is the PAC’s leader in assists per game (3.8) and Abraham has drained 23 three-pointers, the top mark for the 14th-ranked three-point shooting team in NCAA Division III. Sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) blocked eight shots, a career-best, and pulled down 13 rebounds.
W&J led Grove City the entire game and the advantage never dipped below 11 points during the second half. The Presidents limited the Wolverines to 24 percent (14-57) shooting, the second-straight game they held an opponent below 30 percent from the field. In three January games, W&J has allowed opponents to connect on just 27 percent (46-172) of shots, including a 23 percent (20-86) during the first halves of those contests.
Bethany ended a four-game losing streak by routing Chatham 77-58 on Wednesday. The Bison own a 2-2 mark at Hummel Field House this season and are led by Kayla Taormina (12.6 ppg) and Taylor Verrico (12.1 ppg), the only two players on the team averaging more than six points per game.
The Presidents and Bison have split the last 10 meetings in West Virginia with Bethany claiming the most recent meeting by a 68-60 score last season. During W&J’s five victories at Bethany since the 2003-04 campaign, the Presidents have averaged a margin of victory of nearly 15 points. All-time, the Presidents own a 44-32 lead in the series. Prior to becoming head coach at W&J before the 2004-05 season, Jina DeRubbo spent seven seasons as the head coach at Bethany, where she became the school’s all-time wins leader by compiling a 131-57 (.700) record.
On the men’s side, W&J has faced Bethany more than any other opponent as the teams will be meeting for the 171st time. The Presidents and Bison have met every season since the 1928-29 campaign, making it the longest continuous series for W&J. Washington & Jefferson owns a 95-75 edge against BC; however, the Bison have won four-straight games in West Virginia. The teams last met at Hummel Field House in last season’s PAC Tournament semifinals when Bethany claimed an 82-69 victory. Senior guard Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) poured in 23 points and became the 22nd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau during the game.
With eight points against Bethany, Bellhy can pass Larry Romboski ‘59 for 12th place on the Presidents’ all-time scoring list. Bellhy currently ranks second in scoring among PAC players at 18.9 points per game. He and Apke form the top-scoring male/female duo in the league as they average a combined 33.8 points per game.
The Presidents will be aiming for their four-straight victory after knocking off Grove City 63-50 on Wednesday. W&J limited the Wolverines to just 31.5 percent shooting and never trailed during the game, winning its third consecutive game by double figures. Washington & Jefferson hasn’t posted four-straight victories by double-digit margins since December 2009.
Three players posted double-figure scoring efforts during the game, led by 14 points from sophomore forward Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry). Zach Bellhy and sophomore guard Doug Johnson (Greensburg, Pa./Greater Latrobe) both tallied 13 points, while senior forward Ben Cecchini (Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown) added seven points, eight rebounds and one block. Despite his 6-foot-3 frame, Cecchini ranks second in the PAC in blocked shots (1.3 bpg) and fifth in rebounding (6.9 rpg).
During its three-game winning streak, W&J has limited opponents to 32 percent (57-178) shooting and none of its foes have shot over 38 percent during any half of those contests. The Presidents last held three-straight teams to less than 40 percent from the floor in February 2010. W&J has never accomplished the defensive feat in four consecutive games during Head Coach Glenn Gutierrez’s seven-year tenure.
The Bison will provide a challenge for the W&J defense as they lead the league in scoring (80.4 ppg) and rank fourth in field-goal percentage (.434). Five players average double-digit scoring outputs led by Nick Wilcox (14.6 ppg) and Brady Pacific (12.9 ppg). BC enters Saturday having lost its last two games; however, it owns a 7-0 mark at Hummel Field House this season.
W&J returns home on Wednesday for a PAC doubleheader with Geneva beginning at 6:00 pm.