Dec. 2 – LATROBE, Pa. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team opened their conference schedule firing on all cylinders as the Bison defeated Saint Vincent College 73-56 on Wednesday evening. The Bison led wire-to-wire in the game, upending the Bearcats for the first time since the 2009 season.
Midway through the first quarter, the game appeared as if it was going to be a defensive struggle, with the Green & White holding just a two-point advantage (6-4) with 5:21 to play in the frame. It was from there, however, that the Bison would make the first move of the game.
Over the last five minutes of the first quarter, Bethany would mount the offensive, outscoring the host Bearcats 11-2 to close the frame with an 11-point lead (17-6). Alexis Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) got the run going with her second basket of the quarter, and was followed by five-straight points from Sami Schott (Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah). A jumper by Kelsi Settle (Sebring, Ohio/Sebring) pushed the lead to double digits (15-4) before the two teams traded buckets to end the quarter.
The Bison defense held strong during the first quarter, keeping the Bearcats to just six points in the frame, the lowest in any quarter by any Bethany opponent this season.
The second quarter continued to see a barrage of Bison baskets as Bethany ran the lead to 16 points (25-9) on back-to-back baskets by Settle and Gabrielle Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) with 7:23 to play in the half.
Following a small, four-point run by the hosts which pulled the score within 13 points (27-14), Bethany would respond with five-straight points, including a three-point play by Hayley Holenka (Shadyside, Ohio/Shadyside). The basket and ensuing free throw gave the Bison their largest lead of the game, 32-14, with just over three minutes to play.
The Bearcats would battle back over the final three minutes, closing the gap to just six points before the halftime break with a 13-0 run to take the game into the half with the Bison leading 32-26. Saint Vincent used four Bison turnovers to make the game close before the break.
Defensively in the opening half, the Bison held Saint Vincent to just 25 percent shooting from the field, conceding only nine made baskets over the first 20 minutes of play. The Green & White also tallied four steals, leading to 10 first-half turnovers.
The Saint Vincent run would continue briefly in the second half as Mara Benvenuti opened the third quarter with a basket to cut the Bethany lead to just four (32-28). That, however, is when Bethany would turn on the offense for a second time.
An 11-point run by the Green & White once again pushed the visitor’s lead to double digits. Kelsea Daugherty (Newport, Ohio/Frontier) opened the run with a layup off an assist from Mikyla Tipton (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville). Holenka then added a three-point basket which was followed by a jumper from Daugherty to push the lead to double figures (39-28). Tipton would then get the lead out to 13 points, bookending a Saint Vincent bucket with a pair of her own.
The two teams would then settle into a rhythm, trading baskets as the lead fluctuated between eight and 13 points. When the dust settled at the end of the third, the Bison found themselves up 10, 51-41.
The Bison would coast to the win in the fourth quarter, never allowing the lead to drop below double figures as the Green & White outscored Saint Vincent 22-15 in the closing frame. The final points of the day were put in on a pair of free throws by Alexis Naples, giving Bethany the 17-point victory, 73-56.
The win over the Bearcats ended a 13-game winless drought by the Green & White against Saint Vincent. The last Bethany win prior to Wednesday night’s came in 2009, when Bethany snagged a 76-62 win in the Hummel Field House.
The Bison dominated nearly every facet of the game with the Bearcats, connecting on 43 percent of their shots, compared to 33 percent by Saint Vincent. Bethany also outrebounded the hosts, 50-37, and held a 12-4 advantage in second-chance points.
Individually, Schott led the way for Bethany, scoring a team-high 16 points in a reserve role. Her points gave the Bison a 29-12 advantage in bench points. She also added nine rebounds, two assists and two of the team’s season-high 12 steals.
Seven different players scored at least six points for the Bison, who improved to 3-2 on the season. Holenka added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Alexis Naples and Daugherty tallied 11 points, each.
The Green & White will be back in action on Saturday, December 5, as they return home to play host to Thiel College. The matchup with the Tomcats is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start.