Feb. 25 – WASHINGTON, Pa. – Despite a career night from senior Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley), the Bethany College women’s basketball team saw their season come to a close, falling in a wild overtime battle to Washington & Jefferson (85-81) in the quarterfinals of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championship Tournament on Tuesday evening.
The Bison came to play early, taking a 19-10 advantage over the first 10 minutes of the contest. The outburst was capped off with a basket by Carolena Gasbarro (Hickory, Pa./Fort Cherry) at the 10:19 mark of the first frame.
Bethany would continue to put the pressure on the hosts, going on a 13-6 run to increase their lead to 16 points (32-16) with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
The run featured an assault from downtown, as three different Bison laced the net, including Verrico, Gabrielle Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) and Lauren Simpson (Washington, Pa./Trinity).
The Presidents would close the half strong, however, outscoring the Bison 17-8 over the last six minutes, trailing Bethany by only seven points (40-33) entering intermission.
The Bison were locked in from just about everywhere on the court, hitting 15-of-28 (53 percent) from the field, including eight-three point baskets. Verrico and Naples were especially prolific from behind the arc, knocking down three each.
The second half saw the Green & White push their lead to ten points (45-35) at the 16:31 mark after a triple was nailed by Verrico.
Washington & Jefferson would come storming back, embarking on a 15-4 run to take reclaim a one-point advantage (50-49). The run was capped off with a lay in by Alexa DelGreco at the 11:37 mark.
The Presidents would continue to extend upon their lead, pushing it to nine points (61-52) with under eight minutes left to play.
The Bison, like they have done all season, showed resilience and determination, countering with a 19-8 run to retake a two-point lead (71-69) with just two minutes to play. The phenomenal comeback was capped off when Verrico tickled the twine from deep to push the Bison ahead.
After W&J notched a pair of free throws to knot the game up at 71-71 with 1:02 left to play, the Bison had one last chance to win, but were unable to put the ball in the hoop, sending this game into an extra period.
The Presidents controlled the first three-and-a-half minutes of overtime, jumping out to a six-point lead (77-71) after a basket by Valerie Dunlap.
Bethany would show their mettle one again, scoring five consecutive points to cut the deficit to 77-66 with less than two minutes to play. The run was finished off after Naples converted on an “old-fashion” three-point play.
After W&J pushed the lead back to four points (80-76), the Bison would counter, answering back with four-straight Verrico free throws to knot the game up at 80-80 with 51 seconds to play.
The hosts would then retake a two-point lead (82-80) on a basket by Beka Bellhy with 34 ticks left in the period.
On Bethany’s next possession they were unable to convert on a three-point attempt and were forced to foul, sending the Presidents to the charity stripe.
Kara Seamon would split a pair at the line, giving the hosts a three-point lead (83-80) with 14 seconds to go.
Simpson would cut the deficit to two-points (83-81) with five seconds to play, but the Bison would ultimately fall, 85-81.
Playing in her final contest as a Bison, Verrico put together a performance to remember. She finished the game hitting 11-of-17 from the field for a career-high 36 points, including seven triples, which would tie a Bethany single-game high (Jennifer Rodkey's on Jan. 14, 1996, against Waynesburg). Her outing also marked the most points scored by a Bison since Kelley Richardson notched 36 points in the 2003-2004 season.
Others that played well for the Bison included Naples, Simpson and Skylar Williams (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson). Naples notched 17 points and eight boards, while Simpson tallied 10 points on 3-of-6 from three-point land. Williams, who also played her final game as a Bison, notched a season-high five steals.