W&J Looks To Bounce Back At Saint Vincent
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Following a pair of losses to Westminster on Saturday, Washington & Jefferson will try to rebound when visiting Latrobe Wednesday night, for a Presidents’ Athletic Conference basketball doubleheader against Saint Vincent.
The Presidents’ women aim for a season sweep of the Bearcats beginning at 5:30 pm, while the W&J men hope to avenge a December loss to SVC at 7:30 pm.
Junior forward Chelsea Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) posted a career-high 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting to lead the Presidents to a 64-59 victory during the teams’ first meeting. Her 28-point performance was the most by a President since Amanda Stanonik posted 32 points against Thiel in 2006. Apke also pulled down nine rebounds, blocked three shots and grabbed a pair of steals.
W&J trailed by 13 points with 10 minutes to play in regulation, but put together a furious rally that was capped on a layup by freshman Beka Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry), putting the Presidents in front 60-59. W&J secured the victory with four free throws during the final minute.
The Presidents held Saint Vincent scoreless for the final 3:48 of the game and without a field goal for the final 4:35. Overall, SVC was limited to 31 percent shooting (20-64), while W&J drained 43 percent of its shots (20-46). The Presidents won despite turning the ball over 30 times, the most ever during Head Coach Jina DeRubbo’s nine-year tenure.
The victory ended a five-game losing streak to the Bearcats. After winning its first four games at the Robert S. Carey Center, the Presidents have lost three consecutive games, most recently a 70-64 decision in the PAC Tournament quarterfinals last season. Overall, W&J leads the all-time series with SVC 10-6.
Senior forward Devin McGrath paced Saint Vincent with 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight steals when the teams met in December. McGrath has averaged 16.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals during her last six games against W&J. She is the PAC’s fourth-leading scorer (15.8 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (10.4 rpg).
The Bearcats are unbeaten in four games at home this season, with their most recent victory coming by an 87-55 count against Chatham on Saturday. McGrath led four players in double figures with 16 points, while Ariel Rocco recorded a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double in 21 minutes off the bench.
W&J can win its sixth road game this winter after claiming just four victories away from Washington last season. The Presidents fell in New Wilmington to Westminster on Saturday 59-48. Sophomore center Valerie Dunlap (Hostetter, Pa./Latrobe) led the team with 16 points, while Apke added eight points and 11 rebounds. Apke leads the PAC in rebounding at 10.5 per game.
The W&J men also dropped a road game to Westminster on Saturday, falling 86-79. The Presidents fell behind by 16 points early in the second half, but got back into the game with a 22-4 run fueled by 10 points from senior forward Ben Cecchini (Jamestown, N.Y./Jamestown). After W&J took a two-point lead, Anthony Thomas helped the Titans respond by scoring nine of the team’s next 14 points to put Westminster in front 74-69. Senior forward Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) brought W&J to within three at 80-77, but WC secured the victory at the free throw line during the final minute.
Cecchini led the Presidents with 21 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Cecchini drilled 10-of-13 shots for the first 20-point performance of his career. He ranks second in the PAC in blocked shots (1.4 bpg), fourth in assists (3.3 apg), fifth in field-goal percentage (.489) and ninth in rebounding (6.7 rpg).
Bellhy added 20 points to move into 10th on W&J’s all-time scoring list with 1,348 points. He is the conference’s second-leading scorer (19.3 ppg) after leading the league last season. Bellhy has scored 347 points this fall and could to become the first-ever President to record back-to-back 500-point seasons. He also needs a trio of three-pointers to vault into fifth place in program history.
Bellhy netted 18 points and six rebounds, while Cecchini collected 15 points along with six boards during W&J’s 73-63 loss to the Bearcats on December 5. SVC closed the first half on a 22-9 run to take a nine-point edge into halftime. W&J fought back with a 12-2 surge midway through the second half led by Bellhy and sophomore Mitch Locher (Pittsburgh, Pa./Avonworth). The duo combined to shoot 3-of-3 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw stripe and scored all 12 of the Presidents’ points to force a tie. Isaac Turner provided the response for the Bearcats by canning a short jumper and following with a three-point play to make the score 66-61. SVC dug in defensively and held the Presidents without a field goal during the final 2:35 to hold on for the victory.
Chris Klimchock led Saint Vincent with 16 points, while Turner posted 14. Klimchock leads the Bearcats and ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 15.4 points per game and tops the PAC in assists (3.8 apg). SVC is 5-1 in Latrobe this winter, including a perfect 3-0 mark in conference games.
The Bearcats have won five-straight games at the Carey Center against W&J and three consecutive meetings overall in the series. Bellhy scored 16 points and senior forward R.J. Pilato (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) added 13 off the bench, but W&J fell 76-68 last season in Latrobe. Overall, the Presidents hold a slight 26-24 edge in the series.
W&J returns to the Henry Memorial Center on Saturday for a rematch with Thiel. The Presidents’ women knocked off the Tomcats 65-50, while the W&J men fell 57-48 to TC earlier this season in Greenville. The men’s game is a battle for fourth place in the PAC which provides the final PAC Tournament quarterfinal home game.