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Bethany Hopes to Start 2nd Half Run Saturday vs. Grove City
Jan. 25 -BETHANY, W.Va. – With four of its next five games at home, beginning Saturday with a 2 p.m. tip-off against Grove City, the Bethany College women’s basketball team is hoping to use this stretch to jump start a second-half surge in the PAC race.
The road-weary Bison (5-13, 3-8) are coming off a 56-50 defeat at Geneva Wednesday, which was the team’s fifth road game in seven outings. After trailing the entire first half, BC used a quick 6-0 surge to take a 33-32 lead early in the second period, but the Golden Tornadoes responded with nine consecutive points to take the lead for good. In addition to junior Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) scoring a team-high 11 points, freshman Brianna Nuzum (Morgantown, W.Va.) recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards and senior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley) equaled her season-high with 11 rebounds.
Although Taormina’s scoring has been down in recent games, she is continuing to find ways to contribute for the Bison. The 16th women’s player in Bethany history to surpass 1,000 career points, she is averaging only 8.7 points over the last seven games. However, in that same span, the 5-8 guard is pulling down 8.0 rebounds a game and now ranks seventh in the PAC for the season (7.3). In addition, Taormina has dished out 3.3 assists during the last seven contests, including a career-high seven Wednesday at Geneva, and has moved up to eighth in the conference (2.8).
Despite a solid all-around line from Taormina (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) in Bethany’s first game with Grove City Dec. 1, the Bison were defeated by a 55-44 on the Wolverines’ home floor. The game was tied 27-27 at halftime, but BC made just 6-of-31 shot attempts in the second half and finished the game with a season-low 26.2 shooting percentage. Verrico cashed in four three-pointers and had a career-high 21 points, but was the only Bison to score in double digits. Leading Grove City in the win was Leah Gibson with 21 and Kelsey Shirey with 16.
Grove City (6-9, 5-6) is experiencing similar scoring problems as the Bison, as the Wolverines, who have dropped four of its last five games, are averaging 49.5 points over that stretch. Two of those defeats have come in overtime, including a 70-68 loss to visiting Waynesburg Wednesday. Grove City rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to lead by as many as four, but the Yellow Jackets hit two free throws with 24 seconds left to force OT and then pulled out the victory in the extra session. Gibson (19) and Shirey (15) were once again top point scorers for the Wolverines, while Ausinette Rodriguez posted 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
While Bethany (56.6) and Grove City (51.0) both rank in the bottom half of the league in scoring, they are two of the hardest working squads on the boards, as the Wolverines rank first (+5.2) and the Bison are second (+4.3) in rebounding margin. Gibson shoulders much of the offensive load for Grove City, as her 15.1 points per game puts her fifth in the PAC and she is third in free throw percentage (80.6). Shirey is next on the team in scoring with 9.1 per game and ranks third in the conference with 3.4 assists a contest.