Feb. 26 - BETHANY, W.Va. – An eight-point lead slipped away over the final three minutes, as the third-seeded Bethany College women’s basketball team was upset by sixth-seeded Grove City 71-68 at Hummel Field House Tuesday night in a PAC Quarterfinal contest.
The Bison (15-11) got off to a sluggish start, as they fell behind 11-4 through the first five minutes. The hosts responded with a 13-3 spurt to move ahead by three, but GCC answered back. Christine Slater (eight) and Krista Beechy (seven) accounted for all their team’s points during a 15-3 run, which helped give the Wolverines (11-15) a 34-28 halftime lead.
Bethany, who was led by junior center Renee Brandenburg (Avella, Pa.) and sophomore guard Stephanie Shafer (Lancaster, Ohio) with five points each, was ice cold from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, connecting on just 11-of-35 attempts from the floor (31 percent). However, they scored 10 points off Grove City turnovers and tallied seven second chance points to stay in the game, despite 13 first half markers from Slater.
The BC deficit was still four at 40-36 when the Bison erupted to take a double-digit lead. Junior Kaitlyn McCormick (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park) ignited a 22-4 blitz with a pair of free throws and capped it with a triple to put Bethany on top 58-44 with 10:55 to go. McCormick’s three was one of just four during the run, as freshmen Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) and Kelly Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) and junior Caelyn DiSanti (Tarentum, Pa./North Catholic) all canned treys during the spurt.
However, the Wolverines would not go away. They clipped the Bethany lead to five with five minutes to go off the strength of a 12-3 run. The Bison’s advantage swelled back to eight at 66-58 with 3:04 remaining off a McCormick lay-up, but Grove City continued to claw back into the game. Grove City hit two foul shots with 34 seconds to play to get within one at 68-67 and Bethany, which made just 13-of-25 from the foul line for the game, missed two on the other end. Slater then went to the bucket and scored with under 20 seconds to go to give the visitors the lead.
Bethany pushed the ball up the floor after the Slater hoop and Brandenburg was fouled with 10 seconds to go. She would miss the first and her second shot rolled around and hung on the front rim for the longest time. The Bison did not get the home roll, as the ball came off the rim and GCC rebounded. Slater was fouled and made both free throws to make it a three-point game and the Bison’s final shot at the buzzer was long, giving Grove City the upset and sending them into Friday’s semifinals at Thomas More against the top seed and third-ranked Saints.
Four Bison would hit for double figures in the setback, led by McCormick with 14 points and seven rebounds. Harris collected 11 points and eight rebounds, while Kelly Goode and DiSanti each dropped in 10. Goode also hauled down a team-high 10 rebounds and made four steals, while DiSanti handed out three assists.
All five of Grove City’s starters scored in double digits, led by Slater, who posted her second double-double in as many games against the Bison this season with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Brittany Anderson also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while adding in seven blocked shots. Forward Krista Beechy nearly joined the double-double brigade with 13 points and nine rebounds.
The Bison must now hold out hope for an ECAC Tournament bid, which will be given out Monday afternoon. If BC does not earn a postseason opportunity, their season will end with their best record since the 2003-04 campaign