Dec. 19 - NASSAU, Bahamas – Milwaukee School of Engineering had two chances to tie the game in the final three seconds, but missed two foul shots and a jumper, allowing the Bethany College women’s basketball team to escape with a 63-61 victory Monday in the Bison’s first of two games at the Bahamas Sunshine Shootout.
The contest was tightly-contested from the start to finish, as neither team led by more than seven points at any time. There were four ties and four lead changes in the opening half, with Bethany (6-4) taking its largest lead of the period with six minutes left on a three-pointer by senior Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia). The Raiders (6-3) answered back with 10 consecutive points, including four straight baskets by Carol Cayo, to forge a 31-25 lead.
The Bison mounted one more run to close the gap by the break. Junior Carly Garneau (Beavercreek, Ohio/Carroll) buried a three and then a lay-up, which was followed by a trey from MSOE’s Marguerite Wellstein. Bethany trimmed the Raider lead to 34-32 at halftime when senior Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) scored a lay-up with 10 seconds to play in the period.
The MSOE lead was built in part to 12 points off Green and White turnovers and a 21-10 rebounding advantage. The Bison stayed close due to 12 first-half markers by senior Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park).
A Cayo foul shot a little more than three minutes into the second half gave the Raiders their largest lead of the game at 41-34. Bethany stormed right back with nine of the next 11 points. Sophomore Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) buried a three-pointer and then traditional three-point plays by senior Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) and Verrico evened the score at 43.
After MSOE went back in front by four, the Bison ripped off another spurt, scoring nine straight to regain the lead. Wilson started the run with a bucket and then put the Green and White ahead for good with a lay-up with 8:43 to go. That was followed by scores from junior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Monaca) and Shepherd to make it a 55-50 margin with seven minutes remaining.
Bethany seemed poised to take the win when Verrico scored on a jumper with 1:25 left to give BC its largest lead at 63-56, but it just set the stage for a thrilling finish. The Raiders hit two free throws to make it a five-point spread and following a steal on the inbounds, Cayo scored and was fouled. Her free throw gave MSOE five points in four seconds to slice the Bison lead to 63-61 with 1:02 on the clock.
On their next possession, Bethany turned it over and the Raiders had a chance to win or tie. Cayo missed a three with 19 seconds left, but MSOE retained possession with a team rebound. With three seconds to play, the Bison were whistled for a foul, putting Cayo at the line for two shots. After a BC timeout, she missed the first one and then had to miss the second shot. MSOE’s Shannon Larson grabbed the offensive rebound and put up a jumper, but it was off the mark and Bethany narrowly held on for the victory.
The Bison had three players hit for double digits in the contest, as Hackathorn, Shepherd and Verrico all tallied 12 points in the winning effort. Shepherd snared a team-leading seven boards, while Wilson compiled six points, seven assists and three steals.
For the Raiders, Cayo recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Larson just missed with 16 points and nine boards.
Bethany will complete its playing schedule in the Bahamas Tuesday afternoon with a 2 p.m. match-up against Immaculata (Pa.) University. The Mighty Macs (6-3) open play Monday as well with a game against long-time Bethany rival Washington & Jefferson, who also made the Bahamas trip.