Feb. 25 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After completing their best regular season since 2003-04, the Bethany College women’s basketball team will open the PAC Tournament Tuesday night when they host Grove City in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Hummel Field House.
The Bethany-Grove City match-up is just one of four PAC Tournament Quarterfinal contests on Tuesday. Top-seed Thomas More (25-0) will host #8 Waynesburg (1-24) and if the Saints win, they will host the semifinals Friday and championship game Saturday. Tuesday’s other tournament games include #2 Washington & Jefferson (19-6) hosting #7 Thiel (7-17) and #5 Chatham (10-15) traveling to #4 Westminster (15-10). The top seed remaining will play the lowest seeded team left and the middle two seeds will play in the semifinals.
The Bison (15-10) were forced to settle for the third seed after dropping a 66-50 decision to Washington & Jefferson Saturday afternoon. BC was tied with the Presidents 37-37 with 15 minutes to play, but didn’t hit a field goal for nearly nine minutes. Even when freshman Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) broke the spell with a lay-up, Bethany only trailed 52-45 with six minutes to play. However, W&J would close the game with a 14-5 run to pull away for the win and clinch the #2 seed in the PAC Tournament.
Freshman Kelly Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) paced the Bison with 18 points. It was her 17th game this season in double figures and moved her up to eighth in the PAC in scoring at 13.1. Goode is the first BC freshman to average in double digits for a season since Raquel Burns (10.0) in 1998-99 and the 13.1 average is the highest by a first-year Bethany player since Rose Scott tallied 15.2 as a rookie in 1996-97.
Kelly isn’t the only Goode who has made an impact on the Bison program this year. Twin sister Stacy is ranked sixth on the team in scoring at 7.5 points and is also pulling down 3.3 rebounds per game. However, her main contribution has been on the defensive end of the floor, as she is ranked second in the PAC in steals with 3.12 per game. In addition, she has 78 steals on the year and is closing in on Bethany’s single-season record of 88, set by Rose Scott in 1996-97.
The Bison have proven to be tough to beat at home in the PAC Tournament. They are 7-3 this season at Hummel Field House and are 7-2 in their history at home in the conference tourney. Bethany was 6-0 before falling in quarterfinal games at home to end the 2005 and 2006 seasons. BC got back on the winning track last season when they defeated Waynesburg 65-61 in the PAC first round to advance.
Bethany and Grove City have seen each other quite a bit in the PAC Tournament through its history, but Tuesday’s match-up is the first time they’ve played in the tourney since the 03-04 season. The Bison are a perfect 4-0 against GCC in playoff action, including a 60-55 victory over the Wolverines to win the 2001-02 PAC championship. The other three meetings occurred in the 2000 (50-41), 2001 (60-39) and 2004 (59-54) semifinals.
All four previous tournament meetings between the schools were low scoring, as were both of their match-ups this season. Bethany ran their winning streak to six games over Grove City with a 56-47 triumph in GCC and a 68-60 victory in West Virginia. In the home win Feb. 13, the Bison led by just two at halftime, but spread their lead out to 16 and held on for the victory. Kelly Goode totaled 16 points, eight rebounds and six steals, while junior Kaitlyn McCormick (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) amassed 12 points, eight boards and eight steals. Leading the Wolverines was Christine Slater with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Grove City (10-15) has won two of their last three games coming into the tournament, including a 90-48 throttling of Thiel Saturday. The Wolverines trailed 20-18, but used a 21-0 blitz over the final nine minutes of the first half to break the game open. It was the most points scored by a GCC team since 2000. Four players finished with double digits, including Slater with 18, Brittany Anderson with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Raeann Szelong and C.J. Beatty with 12 each.
The Goode sisters aren’t the only top freshmen playing in Tuesday’s game, as Slater has established herself as one of the top young players in the PAC. Counting her effort against Bethany, the 5-8 guard/forward is averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 rebounds over the last four games and has now risen to 10th in the PAC in scoring (11.7) and ninth in rebounding (7.1). Krista Beechy (7.5 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) and Anderson (7.2 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) are also top threats for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines are looking to break a drought in the conference playoffs. Their semifinal loss to Bethany in 2004 started a four-game losing streak in the tournament, including three straight first round exits. Last season, GCC was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Westminster 67-46.