W&J To Honor Seniors Against Bethany Saturday
WASHINGTON, Pa. – The regular season concludes for Washington & Jefferson and Bethany when the teams meet on Saturday at the Henry Memorial Center for a Presidents’ Athletic Conference doubleheader (Women 2:00 pm; Men 4:00 pm).
Senior guard Emily Abraham (Canfield, Ohio/Boardman) will be honored by the women’s team prior to their game, while the Presidents’ men will celebrate the careers of seniors Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry), Ben Cecchini (Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown) and R.J. Pilato (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) before tip-off.
Abraham has recorded 546 points, 218 rebounds and 95 assists during her 91-game career with the Presidents. She ranks fifth all-time with 113 career three-pointers, needing four triples to pass Regina Dixon ‘99 for fourth place. This winter, Abraham is the conference’ fourth-leading three-point shooter at nearly 38 percent (44-116).
Bellhy is one of the top scorers in W&J history with 1,450 career points, good for fifth all-time. He needs 51 more points to become the first President in history with back-to-back 500-point seasons. Bellhy ranks second in the league in scoring (18.6 ppg) after leading the PAC last season. He also is fourth in program history with 128 career three-pointers.
Cecchini has been one of the top all-around performers in the conference this winter, as he ranks second in blocked shots (1.3 bpg), third in assists (3.2 apg), fifth in shooting percentage (.497) and ninth in rebounding (6.3 rpg). Cecchini is the first President to record at least 200 points, 100 rebounds and 75 assists in the same season since Nolan Larry ‘03 accomplished the feat during the 2001-02 campaign.
Pilato is a team captain and a veteran of 101 games during his career. He is a 42 percent shooter with 343 points, 218 rebounds and 88 assists during those contests.
The W&J men will be the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in next week’s PAC Tournament, but regardless the outcome of Saturday’s game, the Presidents know they will be facing this same Bison team in West Virginia on Tuesday (7:00 pm) as all seeding and tiebreaker scenarios dictate the matchup. W&J and Bethany have faced off three times in the PAC Tournament during Head Coach Glenn Gutierrez’s seven-year tenure, with the Bison winning two of those games, including a semifinal contest at Nutting Gymnasium last season.
The Presidents have faced the Bison more than any other opponent in their history, with Saturday’s matchup being the 172nd all-time. W&J leads the series 95-76, but has lost four-straight games to BC. Earlier this winter, Bethany claimed a 109-72 home victory behind 33 points from Leslie Addy.
W&J dropped a tight game to Geneva 64-59 on Wednesday. The Presidents led by three points at halftime, but the Golden Tornadoes shot 54 percent during the final 20 minutes to secure the win. Bellhy paced the team with 22 points, while younger brother, sophomore Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) recorded a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Bethany has lost three-straight games and needs a victory or a Thiel loss to Grove City Saturday to clinch the PAC Tournament’s No. 3 seed. The Bison own the league’s top scoring offense at 78.4 points per game. All five of Bethany’s starters average double-figure scoring outputs, led by Nick Wilcox’s 12.9 points per game.
The W&J women locked up the No. 3 seed in the PAC Tournament with a 62-44 victory at Geneva. The Presidents will face either Grove City or Westminster at the Henry Memorial Center during Tuesday’s quarterfinals (7:00 pm).
Junior forward Chelsea Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting during Wednesday’s triumph. Sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) added 12 points and nine rebounds, while Abraham and junior points guard Kara Seamon (Morgantown, W. Va./University) both contributed eight points and four assists.
Dunlap also blocked two shots to match the single-season school record for swats. Heather Dawkins ‘94 set the mark at 65 during the 1993-94 season. Dunlap has blocked 83 shots during her career, the third-highest mark in program history.
Seamon is in position to become the third-straight President to lead the PAC in assists as she has handed out 3.9 helpers per game this winter. Vanessa Rivera ‘12 led the conference during the last two seasons.
W&J has beaten Bethany nine of the last 10 times the teams have met in Washington. Overall, the Presidents lead the series 45-32. Apke led the team to a 64-56 victory at Bethany earlier this season with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Head Coach Jina DeRubbo is 16-3 against the Bison during her nine seasons with W&J. Prior to leading the Presidents, DeRubbo was the head coach at Bethany for seven years.
Bethany has dropped eight of its last 10 games since falling to the Presidents on Jan. 12. Taylor Verrico leads the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game, while Kayla Taormina is Bethany’s leading rebounder (7.5 rpg) and second-leading scorer (10.6 ppg). A Bison victory Saturday coupled with a Thiel loss to Grove City would give Bethany the No. 7 seed in the PAC Tournament. A loss or a Thiel victory would mean the Bison would face top-seeded Thomas More on Tuesday.