Dec. 15 -BETHANY, W.Va. – Despite shooting a season-best 48 percent from the floor and a career-high 27 points from senior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley), the Bethany College women’s basketball team fell by a 64-61 count Saturday afternoon to visiting Hiram.
The setback drops the Bison to 4-7 for the season as the team heads into the holiday break. The Terriers won their second in a row and improved to 5-5.
Three-pointers by junior Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) and senior Rebecca Braithwaite (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) sparked an early 10-6 BC lead, but Hiram countered with 10 straight points, including a pair of treys from Calysia Smyers, to take a 16-10 advantage. The visitors would lead the rest of the half, building as large as a 32-21 cushion with three minutes to play in the period.
Taormina (right) started to find her rhythm just before the intermission, scoring three baskets in a 10-2 Bethany run that closed the gap to 34-31 at the break.
A pair of Taormina scores early in the second half helped Bethany tie the score at 37, but the Terriers responded with a 6-0 run to go back on top. Taormina continued her roll with six consecutive points later in the half and she put Bethany in front at 54-52 with a pair of foul shots at the 8:12 mark of the half. Hiram answered once again, netting five consecutive points to regain the lead for good, but the contest would go down to the wire.
Verrico knocked down a free throw with 2:05 on the clock to bring BC within a bucket at 63-61 and neither team was able to score until the closing seconds. A steal by Bison junior Skylar Williams (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) gave Bethany a chance with under 20 seconds to go, but when senior Carly Garneau (Beaver Creek, Ohio/Carroll) drove baseline, she was stripped going up for the shot and Hiram gained possession off the tie-up. The Terriers would make a free throw with two seconds left and the Bison’s last chance ended with a turnover, allowing Hiram to come away with the three-point victory.
The Bison were unable to capitalize on the huge game from Taormina. She was 11-of-14 from the floor in notching her career-best 27 markers, the most by a Bison since Katelynn Hackathorn scored 28 in a PAC Tournament game at Washington & Jefferson in Feb., 2010. It also gives Taormina 980 points, leaving her 20 shy of becoming the 16th women’s player in Bethany history to reach 1,000.
Verrico was the only other Bison who notched double figures with 10 points, while Williams (right) passed out a game-high five assists.
A trio of Terriers finished the game in double figures, led by Alexis Kemper with 17, while Smyers had 13 and Danielle Day scored 10.
Bethany is now off through both holidays and will be return to the court Jan. 2 with a PAC match-up at Westminster, scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m.