The St. Vincent College men’s basketball held a lead for only 2:47, but led by one as the final horn sound, winning, 67-66, over host Bethany (W.Va.) in Saturday’s Presidents’ Athletic Conference game.
The Bearcats improve to 4-1 in the PAC and 9-5 overall while the Bison fall to 0-5 and 1-13.
The Bison opened the scoring with three from the right corner, but Shemar Bennett got the Bearcats on the board as he backed down a defender on the left block for the layup. After two Bethany makes and a turnover by SVC, Saint Vincent called a timeout, trailing, 7-2 at the 17:26-mark. Bennett made two free throws, but the Bison answered with the next three points to hold a 10-4 lead.
Andrew Reed cut the SVC deficit to four with a finger-roll layup, and Cletus Helton then made two free throws to pull the Bearcats within two. Bethany increased its led to seven after a layup and a three from the right wing. Drew Normandin brought the score to 15-10 after two free throws with 11:50 to go in the first.
After Bethany went back up by seven, David Stephen and Bennett scored consecutive layups as the Bearcats got within 17-14. Bethany scored the next three points, but a Helton layup kept SVC within four.
Helton pulled St. Vincent within two, but the Bison went back up by four on the next position. Bennett and Helton followed with consecutive layups to tie the game at 22 with 5:37 to go in the first half.
SVC took its first lead of the game as Bennett battled in the post for a layup, but the lead was shortlived as Bethany tied the game 10 seconds later. The Bison regained the lead with a layup and free throw to lead 27-25.
After six-straight points by Bethany, Josh Duda hit a three from the left wing to cut the Bison lead to two. Bethany increased the lead back to five, but Duda hit another three and kept the Bearcats within two, 33-31, at the half.
The start of the second half began with both teams trading scores until Helton nailed a three from the right corner to give the Bearcats a 41-40 lead with 16:54 on the clock. A minute later, Trey Shifflett gave the Bison the lead with a three-point make.
Helton tied the game at 43 with a layup followed by a Stephen free throw to give St. Vincent a 44-43 edge. Bethany regained the lead after a three ,but Bennett evened the game at 46 with a layup from the right block.
The back-and-fourth affair continued as both teams swapped layups until Khalil Wilson converted a three-point play for the Bison for a 53-50 lead with 10:45 to go in the second half. St. Vincent tried to tie the game several times, but Bethany stayed in front, 57-53, with 8:32 on the clock.
Every time SVC cut the Bethany lead to two points, the Bison answered by increasing the lead back to four. After a rejection on the defensive side, Bennett ran the court and threw down a dunk in traffic to make it a two-point game, 61-59, with 5:05 on the clock.
The strong defense continued for the Bearcats as Helton forced a turnover and then drew a foul. Helton went one of two from the line as Saint Vincent only trailed by one. Bethany completed a three-point play to go up four points, but Stephen made a layup from under the hoop to cut the deficit back to two.
Stephen tied the game at 64 as he drove the right lane with 3:01 remaining. With the game tied at 64, the Bison called a full timeout at the 1:37-mark.
Out of the timeout, St. Vincent forced a shot-clock violation and a turnover. Off an offensive rebound, Bennett went up strong and drew a foul. Bennett made the first free throw ,but missed the second as SVC led, 65-64, with 47 seconds left.
Bethany inbounded the ball and off two screens, the Bison made a 15-footer to take a 66-65 edge. On the next possession, Helton made a spin move and converted a floater in the lane to put SVC back ahead, 67-66. The Bison had a chance with a layup inside five seconds, but the shot bounced off the rim with Bennett coming down with the rebound.
Bennett was fouled with 1.9 seconds to play, but he missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity. Bethany corralled the rebound and called a timeout.
Off the inbound, Bethany attempted a long three, but it fell short.
The Bearcats were led by Bennett with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Helton and Stephen finished in double digits with 18 and 17, respectively. SVC scored 44 of its 67 points from the paint and outrebounded the Bison by five (39-34).
Saint Vincent is home Wednesday (7:30 p.m.) to Waynesburg in another PAC matchup.
ST. VINCENT (67)