Dec. 2 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany women’s basketball team will open up Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) play Wednesday night with a match-up at two-time defending league champion Thomas More in a 5:30 p.m. tip-off in Crestview Hills, Ky.
The Bison are off to a slow start this year, as they dropped two games last weekend at the Wilmington Tournament to fall to 1-4 overall. They fell by an 82-71 count against Pitt-Bradford in the consolation game Sunday despite a career-high 22 points from senior Renee Brandenburg (Avella, Pa.) and 11 points, five rebounds and three steals from sophomore Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio).
Brandenburg, who averaged 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 blocks over the weekend, earned All-Tournament team honors. The 6-1 center is off to a good start in her final year, as she leads the team in scoring (11.2) and is second in rebounding (4.8). Her 62.5 percent accuracy from the floor is second-best in the PAC.
“We are very pleased with Renee’s start this season,” said Bison head coach Rebecca Upton. “She is trying to step up and be a leader in her senior year and the past couple games show that. Renee is our anchor in the post right now and we need her to be consistent day in and day out.”
Upton says her team’s defense has played a large role in their tough start. Although Bethany is ranked third in the PAC in turnovers forced (22.8), they are ranked last in points allowed (71.8) and teams are shooting 43.1 percent from the field, second-highest in the league.
“With our athletic ability and how much we work on it every day in practice, we need to play better defense,” said Upton. “We have very good individual defensive players, but we aren’t playing good team defense right now. We know we need to step it up on that end and we’ll keep working to get where we need to be.”
Thomas More has continued their roll from last year, when they went undefeated through the regular season, captured the PAC Tournament title and finished with a 29-1 record after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Ranked sixth in the nation in the latest D3Hoops.com poll, the Saints are off to a 5-0 start and won their 33rd consecutive regular season game with a 73-51 romp over Centre (Ky.) College Sunday. Forward Nicole Dickman led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Saints have been strong on both ends of the floor, as they sit atop the PAC in scoring (75.0) and field goal percentage (50.6) while also ranking first in field goal percentage defense (29.9) and second in points allowed (49.0). Last year’s PAC Player of the Year paces the attack, as guard Jayme Thiem is scoring a team-best 14.4 points per game and is a perfect 28-for-28 from the foul line on the season. Dickman controls the post by averaging 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds and is the only one ahead of Brandenburg in the PAC in field goal percentage (69.8).
“Obviously, Thomas More is a very good team,” said Upton. “They have a Division I transfer in Thiem at guard and Dickman is a strong player in the post. They start four seniors, so they are very experienced and very confident coming back from last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance. It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us, but we’re going to go down there, play as hard as we can and see what we can do.”
The Saints lead the all-time series with the Bison 7-1, including a 71-60 win at Bethany and an 81-55 triumph at home last year. BC’s win in the series was a 71-65 decision at home early in the 2003 season prior to Thomas More joining the PAC.