Saint Vincent grinds out win over Thiel, 60-55

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GREENVILLE, Pa. (Jan. 21) – Behind a strong defensive effort, the Saint Vincent men's basketball team earned a hard-fought 60-55 victory over Thiel College at the Beeghly Gymnasium in Greenville, Pa.

Saint Vincent stayed unbeaten in conference play, moving to 8-0 in Presidents' Athletic Conference play while improving to 13-4 overall. Thiel dropped to 5-3 in the conference and 9-8 overall.

A three-point field goal by junior guard Jaylon Bell helped Saint Vincent race out to a 9-1 lead over the first three plus minutes. Thiel responded right back by scoring the next six points to cut their deficit to 9-7. Thiel trimmed the Bearcats lead to a single point with a layup at the 12:40 mark of the first half.

SVC answered with three straight points when junior Ben Klimchock made a layup and Bell added a free throw to make the score 16-12 in favor of Saint Vincent. After a Thiel layup, Saint Vincent answered with a John LeGrande slam to push the lead to 18-14 SVC.

However, the Saint Vincent offense went cold, as they went scoreless for nearly six minutes. During that time, Thiel scored 11 straight points to gain their first lead of the game and build it to 25-18 with 5:38 to play in the first half.

Senior forward Sean Kett ended the scoring drought for the Bearcats with a layup and a free throw at the 4:31 mark. The Bearcats showed great resiliency, scoring the final 10 points of the half while also holding Thiel without a point over nearly the final five and a half minutes of the first half.

The host Tomcats regained the lead at 29-28 early in the second with back-to-back baskets. SVC then rattled off a 10-1 run to take their largest lead of the game at 38-30 with 14:57 to play. The Bearcats run was capped by a jumper from junior Pat Jones, who also had a three point field goal during the key stretch for SVC.

However, Thiel slowly and methodically responded with a run of its own. The Tomcats outscored Saint Vincent 12-2 over the next six minutes. That run gave Thiel a 42-40 lead with 8:05 to play.

In what became a game of runs, the Bearcats would score the next eight points to take a 48-42 lead with less than five minutes to play. Kett started the run by splitting a pair of free throws. Bell made a layup on the fastbreak before Jones made a layup and a three pointer.

 The Bearcats strengthened its lead to double figures (52-42) before Thiel could end its long scoreless drought, which lasted nearly seven minutes. The Bearcats took care of business at the free throw line over the final minute to remain perfect in PAC play.

Kett led the way by posting a double-double performance, totaling 12 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Jones led the Bearcats in scoring with 15 points. Meanwhile, JC Howard chipped in 11 points while dishing out four assists. Bell filled the stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.

The Bearcats return to action on Saturday, Jan. 24, when they host Bethany College at the Carey Center. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.