Feb. 10 – BETHANY, W. Va. – With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Bethany College women’s basketball team will aim to keep pace in the conference standings as they open a three-game home stand with Westminster on Wednesday evening. Full game notes can be viewed below.
The Bison: The women’s basketball program comes into the contest with Titans having split a pair of conference contests last week. The Green & White dropped a 90-52 decision to #2 Thomas More before defeating Chatham University, 83-65, in Pittsburgh. With the split, the Bison kept pace just one game behind Waynesburg (8-6), who defeated Washington & Jefferson in their previous contest. Bethany also remains tied with Grove City for fifth, three games ahead of seventh-place Thiel.
In the game against the Saints, who are now ranked first in both national polls, the Bison dropped just their second contest in their last five. In the loss, sophomore Hayley Holenka led the way offensively with 10 points. Sophomore Lauren Simpson and freshman Kelsea Daugherty each added nine in the setback. Despite the score, the Bison played well in the second half, shooting 44 percent, including 50 percent (5-of-10) from behind the three-point line.
In the team’s following contest, the Bison got back on track with an 18-point victory over Chatham University. In the victory, Bethany saw every player that hit the floor score at least four points in the contest. Daugherty led the way with a career-high 28 points while also adding nine rebounds. The freshman dominated the second half, scoring 16 of the team’s 33 points. Junior Mikyla Tipton chipped in with 12 while junior Gabrielle Naples finished with 10 points and seven boards.
The Bison have had a solid year statistically, ranking fifth in the conference in points per game (69.5) and point differential. The Green & White also rank third in the PAC in three-point percentage (.330) and rebounding margin (+3.7).
Individually, Daugherty has led the charge, ranking fifth in the conference in points per game (16.3) and third in rebounds per contest (8.6). Holenka currently ranks 11th in the league in points per game (11.7) while Tipton is the Bison’s third leading scorer, averaging 9.7 per night.
The Titans: Westminster comes into the game having dropped four of five, including both conference games last week against Grove City (68-45) and Saint Vincent (87-54). In the loss to the Wolverines, the Titans were led offensively by Jenna Grandy, who posted 12 points in a reserve role. Westminster shot 36 percent from the field, but fell victim to 25 team turnovers.
In their following matchup against Saint Vincent, the Titans got off to a slow start, scoring just 16 first-half points in the contest. However, the reserves once again made an impact as Grandy and Kylie Cook scored 12 points each off the bench.
Offensively, the Titans currently rank 10th in the conference in points per game (53.8) and ninth in scoring margin (-17.1). Westminster is shooting just .332 from the field and .259 from behind the three-point line, both which rank last in the PAC.
Individually, Allison Borts has been the bright spot for Westminster, ranking first on the team in both points per game (11.1) and rebounds per contest (6.0). Other leading scorers for Westminster include Rachael Durbin (7.6) and Grandy (6.5).
Previous Meeting: In the two team’s previous contest, the Titans handed the Bison a 62-53 defeat in New Wilmington. The largest discrepancy in the game was at the foul line, where Westminster outscored the Green & White 20-8. Daugherty led the way for Bethany in the win, posting a double-double with 15 points and what was then a career-high 15 rebounds. Gabrielle Naples also played well in the contest, scoring 13 points. Holenka and Tipton added eight, each. Borts and Durbin led Westminster in the game, each totaling a double-double. Borts finished with 18 points and 11 boards, while Durbin posted 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Hitting the Glass: The Bison have done well on the boards this season, currently ranking third in the PAC in rebounding margin (+3.4). The Green & White also rank second in the PAC in both offensive (15.1) and defensive (28.5) rebounds per game.
Bethany does a nice job of rebounding by committee, as three different starters, and four players overall, rank in the top 20 in the PAC in rebounds per game. Daugherty comes in ranked third (8.6) while Schott (15th - 5.8), Holenka and Gabrielle Naples (18th – 4.9) all rank in the top 20. Daugherty also comes into the contest as the PAC’s top offensive rebounder, averaging 3.9 per game.
The Bison will need to make rebounding a focus against the Titans, as Westminster outrebounded Bethany 51-36 in the two team’s previous meeting.
Manage the Game: For the Bison to come out on top on Wednesday, the Green & White will need to focus on limiting turnovers. Bethany is currently 9-1 on the year when the team posts an assist/turnover ratio of higher than +1.0. Inversely, when Bethany posts a ratio of 1.0 or lower, the Bison are 2-9. Sophomore point guard Alexis Naples is key to how well the Green & White fair in the turnover battle. Naples currently ranks second in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in assists per game (4.0) and sits fifth in the PAC and 13th in all of Division III in assist/turnover ratio with a +2.33.
New Look Playoff Format: With the regular season winding down, the Presidents’ Athletic Conference teams continue to jockey for position in the new PAC Playoff format. The Bison currently stand in fifth place, and if the standings hold, would host Westminster in an opening round playoff game.
This season, the top four seeds will receive a bye into the quarterfinals, with the top two seeds automatically reaching the PAC semis which will take place at the top seeds home gym.
With four games remaining, the top three seeds (Thomas More, St. Vincent and W&J) seem virtually set. However, the Bison are just one game behind Waynesburg for fourth place with a head-to-head matchup looming on Saturday.