Nov. 15 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team mounted a second-half rally to trim a 19-point deficit down to seven, but Denison (Ohio) University held off the challenge to come away with a 69-61 victory at Hummel Field House Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
The Big Red, who were ranked 12th in the country in the D3Hoops.com and 16th in the USA Today/ESPN preseason polls, scored the opening six points of the game and took an early 20-8 lead. Back-to-back threes from senior Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia) and sophomore Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) capped an 11-4 BC spurt that trimmed the deficit to 24-19.
Denison would push their lead back to double digits by halftime, as 57 percent shooting in the opening stanza gave the visitors a 37-27 cushion at the break. Bethany shot 48 percent in the first half, but its efforts were hampered by 17 turnovers.
The early stages of the second half saw the Big Red continue to expand their lead. A pair of jumpers by Nicole Coggins were part of a quick 8-2 spurt that gave Denison its largest lead of the night at 53-34 with 14:26 to play.
Bethany slowly chipped away at the margin through the rest of the half. Senior guard Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) heated up from the outside, canning all three attempts from the arc, including a triple with 59 ticks on the clock to bring BC within seven points at 66-59. Unfortunately, the Green and White would get no closer, as Denison went 3-for-4 from the foul line in the last 49 seconds to stave off the rally and come away with the victory.
Droginske finished with a team-best 15 points in the defeat, 13 of which came after halftime. Also notching double digits was sophomore Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley) with 14 markers and Shepherd chipped in with nine points and a team-high eight boards. Bethany shot a solid 45 percent in the game, but 29 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome.
For the Big Red, point guard Serafina Nuzzo fired in a game-best 17 points and Christina Myers came off the bench to drop in 12.
The Bison will return to action this weekend at the Penn State Behrend Tournament in Erie, Pa. On Friday night, BC will take on Marietta in a 6 p.m. opening round game, with the other semifinal pitting Penn State Behrend against Hiram.