W&J Men’s Basketball Faces Bethany In PAC Tournament Quarterfinals
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Washington & Jefferson College and Bethany meet for the second time in four days when the teams face off in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Nutting Gymnasium on Tuesday (7:00 pm).
W&J (8-17, 6-10) earned the No. 5 seed in the tournament despite Saturday’s 74-63 loss to the Bison. Bethany concluded the regular season with a 16-10 overall record and a 10-6 mark in PAC play to claim the No. 4 seed.
In other PAC Tournament action, regular-season champion Saint Vincent faces the winner of Monday’s opening-round game between No. 8 Waynesburg and No. 9 Westminster. Second-seeded Thomas More hosts No. 7 Geneva, while No. 6 Grove City travels to No. 3 Thiel. All quarterfinal games will be held on Tuesday night.
W&J and Bethany will be meeting for the fifth time in the PAC Tournament and 173rd time overall. The Bison have won three of the previous four tournament matchups, including last season’s 82-69 semifinal victory in West Virginia. BC has won five-straight games against the Presidents; however, W&J leads the all-time series 95-77. Bethany is 17-1 all-time at home in the conference tournament with the lone loss coming in the 2007 semifinals to W&J 78-75.
Senior guard Zach Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry) is shooting 46 percent (32-69), while averaging 19.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in his last five games against Bethany. Bellhy is the conference’s second-leading scorer (18.8 ppg) and ranks fourth all-time at W&J with 1,472 career points. Bellhy poured in 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on Saturday against the Bison for his second double-double of the winter.
Bellhy’s younger brother, sophomore forward Nate Bellhy (McDonald, Pa./Fort Cherry), also turned in a double-double performance with 18 points and 10 boards. In two games against BC this winter, Bellhy averaged 21.5 points on 14-of-30 shooting (.467) and pulled down 7.0 rebounds per contest. He leads the league in rebounding (9.1 rpg).
Sophomore point guard Doug Johnson (Greensburg, Pa./Greater Latrobe) dished out a career-high eight assists on Saturday, the most by a President since Uchenna Okocha ‘12 also handed out eight against Westminster on Dec. 12, 2011. Johnson has been W&J’s top threat from beyond the arc this winter as he leads the PAC in three-point shooting (.453).
Reece Mabery scored a game-high 25 points and Nick Wilcox produced 13 points, 13 boards, five assists and four steals to lead the Bison in their regular-season finale. Mabery and Wilcox are two of five Bison averaging double-figure scoring outputs this winter. Bethany leads the league in scoring (78.2 ppg) and turnover margin (+8.12). BC averages 12.2 steals per contest, led by Wilcox (3.3 spg), Mabery (2.4 spg) and Leslie Addy (2.2), who rank as the PAC’s three leaders in swipes.
The winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal game advances to the PAC Tournament semifinals on Thursday, with games hosted by the two highest remaining seeds. W&J has advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament five times under seventh-year Head Coach Glenn Gutierrez. Last year, W&J upset second seed Thiel in the quarterfinals 91-89 behind 23 points from Zach Bellhy. The days later, eventual champion Bethany defeated the Presidents 82-69 in West Virginia.
The Presidents are playing in their 20th PAC Tournament game in history and enter with a 9-10 record. W&J has won at least one conference tournament game in five of the last six years.