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Jan. 5 - GREENVILLE, Pa. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team saw a 23-point second half lead whittled down to three on two occasions, but senior guard Lisa Mitchell (Burgettstown, Pa./Avella) hit four foul shots in the final 23 seconds to help the Bison hold on for an 80-75 conference victory at Thiel (Pa.) College Saturday afternoon.

The win evens BC’s overall record at 5-5 and improves them to 2-1 in the PAC. The Tomcats fall to 5-5 and 2-2 with the defeat.

In the opening period, a big run before halftime helped the Bison build a 38-25 advantage going into the break. Bethany held a 22-19 lead, but outscored the hosts 16-6 through the final five minutes of the half to create the 13-point difference. Mitchell scored seven points in the early part of the run and freshman guard Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) had the final five points of the spurt.

Mitchell (11 points) and Harris (10) paced the Green and White offense in the opening stanza, while Harris ripped down seven boards to help BC post a 31-20 advantage on the glass. Leading Thiel was preseason All-American Amber Bodrick with nine points, but she hit just 4-of-13 from the floor, which played a role in TC shooting just 25 percent (8-32).

Bethany continued to dominate to open the second half, as consecutive hoops by junior Renee Brandenburg (Avella, Pa.) pushed the lead to 17. A few minutes later, Brandenburg would score again on the inside and Harris buried a trey to highlight a 10-1 run that swelled the Bison cushion to their largest of the game at 56-33 with 14:11 to play.

The Tomcats began slowly chipping away at the Bethany lead, as they used a 13-3 spurt to cut the deficit to 59-46. They made their major move in the final six minutes to get back into the game. Down 71-55, TC tallied 16 of the next 19 points, including three straight buckets from Bodrick, with the final one cutting the once-healthy Bethany lead down to just three points at 74-71 with 2:07 to go.

Each team scored on their next possession to keep the difference at three (76-73), but a Bethany turnover gave Thiel possession with 30 seconds to go. However, Bodrick had the ball stolen by Bison freshman Stacy Goode (Pleasant Plain, Ohio/Little Miami) and Thiel was forced to foul. Mitchell, who had a perfect day at the charity stripe, drained two free throws with 23 seconds left and added two more with 15 seconds to go to secure the victory.

Mitchell’s 10-for-10 performance at the foul line helped her finish the day with a team-high 20 points and she also matched her career-high with nine rebounds. Brandenburg nearly recorded a double-double with 16 markers and nine rebounds, while Harris didn’t come up short of that goal. She notched 15 points and 15 boards, both career-highs, for her first career double-double.

Rounding out Bethany’s double digit scorers was junior Kaitlyn McCormick (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Park), who amassed 11 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Despite the Bison’s stout defense, Thiel’s top player Bodrick managed to reach her scoring average of the season with 20 points, while also grabbing 13 rebounds. However, she hit just 9-of-29 attempts from the floor. Other top scorers were forward Jasmin Jones with 15 and Elysa Farrell had 11 in the loss.

The Bison will return home for their next contest, as they will host Saint Vincent (Pa.) College Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in Hummel Field House. Because the Bearcats are still a provisional member of the NCAA, the match-up will not count in the conference standings.