Nov. 16 – BETHANY, W. Va. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team looks to climb the ladder in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in 2015 as the Bison return a multitude of talent and experience that finished in the middle of the conference a year ago.
The Green & White ended the 2014-15 campaign with 12 victories, including eight wins in the PAC. Bethany earned a home game in the first round of the conference playoffs, entering the PAC conference tournament as the sixth seed.
Head coach Rebecca Upton enters her 12th season at the helm of the Bison program. Upton has the benefit of returning all five starters, including leading scorer and PAC Freshman of the Year, Kelsea Daughtery (Newport, Ohio/Frontier). Daughtery finished fifth in the conference in points per game (16.0) and third in rebounds (8.6). The sophomore forward also shot a team-best .495 from the field.
Along with Daughtery, the Bison will look to use their depth to their advantage, with six of the other top-seven scorers returning as well. Bethany brings back nearly 90% of their total scoring from 2014.
Junior guard Haley Holenka (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside) and senior guard Mikyla Tipton (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville) both averaged double-digits with 11.0 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Sami Schott (Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) added 7.2 points while Gabrielle Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) put up 6.0 points per contest.
Junior point guard Alexis Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) will once again be in charge of finding the Bison scorers after averaging a team-high 3.7 assists in 2014. Tipton and Holenka contributed two helpers on average as well.
Bethany consistently controlled the glass on both ends of the court last year, averaging almost four more rebounds per contest than their opponents (44.0). Daugherty and Schott (6.0) led the Green & White in rebounding, with Holenka (5.3), Tipton (4.9), and Gabrielle Naples (4.8) also helping out on the boards.
The Bison will try to build on their defensive presence after improving their steals per game average from 6.9 in 2013 to 8.2 last season. Holenka and Alexis Naples paced the Bison with two steals each, while Daughtery added over a swipe per game as well.
Other returning players that are expected to see significant playing time include Carly Grady (Keyser, W. Va./Keyser) and Kelsi Settle (Sebring, Ohio/Sebring). Grady saw 13.5 minutes of action per contest while scoring 5.0 points off the bench.
In addition to the returners, Coach Upton also brought in five freshmen in a recruiting class that hopes to add even more depth. Freshmen guards Rachel Devine (Carrollton, Ohio/Carrollton) and Alexis LoNero (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic), forwards Taylor Large (Hopwood, Pa./Laurel Highlands) and Ashley Duthie (Madison, Ohio/Madison), along with center Jordyn Williams (Erie, Pa./Central Tech) will all compete for playing time in the upcoming season.
The Green & White open their season on Saturday, November 18 as they welcome Franciscan University for a 6:00 p.m. start. Bethany defeated Franciscan, 71-57, in their 2014 season opener. The first conference contest will be on December 2, when they travel to Latrobe, Pa. to take on Saint Vincent.