Feb. 26 - CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. – The Bethany women’s basketball team led #21 Washington & Jefferson by two at halftime, but the Presidents used a massive second half run to rally for a 78-62 victory over the Bison in the PAC Tournament semifinals Friday evening at Thomas More.
The teams swapped the lead eight times and were tied on four occasions in a tight first half. W&J took their biggest lead at 19-14 midway through the first half, but Bethany scored seven of the next nine points to even the score. In the closing minutes of the half, BC surged to their largest margin of the night when senior Renee Brandenburg (Avella, Pa.) hit a lay-up and senior Caelyn DiSanti (Tarentum, Pa./North Catholic) canned a three to give the Bison a 32-27 lead with two minutes left in the period.
The Presidents did come back with a three from Kennan Killeen and two Emily Hays foul shots around two free throws from Bison freshman Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs), but Bethany was still in front by a 34-32 score at halftime.
The back-and-forth nature the contest continued through the opening minutes of the second half. Two free throws from Hays and a score from Maggie Gibson were both answered by buckets from Brandenburg, the second of which gave Bethany a 39-38 lead with 17:20 to play.
After the Brandenburg hoop, Hays scored to put W&J back in front, which ignited the decisive Presidents run. They would outscore Bethany 34-3 over the next 11 minutes. Killeen helped spark the early part of the spurt with seven points and Jaime McKitrick was the key contributor on the back half, with eight points. Two foul shots by Stephanie Smith at the 5:56 mark gave the Presidents their largest lead at 72-42.
To the Bison’s credit, they tried to shake off the bad spell and get back into the contest. Three-pointers from Wilson, senior Kaitlyn McCormick (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park), and sophomores Stacy and Kelly Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) were part of a 18-3 run by the Bison that trimmed the W&J margin down to 75-60 with two minutes left and caused the Presidents to put three starters back on the floor. However, the run just made the final score closer and the Bison saw their PAC title hopes dashed.
Bethany had three players reach double digits in the contest, paced by 15 points from Kelly Goode, who also grabbed six rebounds. DiSanti totaled 11 markers and five assists and Brandenburg contributed 10 points. Wilson chipped in with nine points, a team-high seven rebounds and three steals.
For W&J, Killeen went 4-for-6 from the arc on her way to a game-high 21 points. Hays added 15 and McKitrick came off the bench to fire in 10 for the Presidents, who shot 56 percent (9-16) from the three-point line and ran up a 43-31 advantage on the boards.
The Bison’s season may not be over, as they will find out Monday if they have earned an invitation to the ECAC South Region Tournament. If they do not receive a bid, Friday was the last game in the careers of Brandenburg, DiSanti, McCormick and Susannah Cartland (Harvard, Ill.), who missed the last five games because of injury. The class helped Bethany post back-to-back 15-win seasons and reached the PAC semifinals twice.