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BETHANY EARNS ECAC BID FOR FIRST POSTSEASON TRIP IN EIGHT YEARS
Feb. 27 - BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team was rewarded for posting its highest win total in eight years by receiving a bid to the ECAC South Region Tournament and will open up play at Marywood (Pa.) University Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Bison, who earned the #5 seed, finished with a 16-11 record, its most wins since 2003-04 (23-5), which was also the last time BC played in the postseason. Marywood, who comes from the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC), completed the season with an 18-9 record to earn the fourth seed for ECACs. The winner of Wednesday’s game will take on the top-seed Medaille (22-5), who earned a bye into the semifinals.
Medaille will not be the host for the semifinals and championship, which will take place Saturday and Sunday. If #2 Moravian (15-11) beats #7 Centenary (14-11) Wednesday, they will host the weekend or if they are upset, #3 Waynesburg (20-7), who hosts #6 Penn State Behrend (21-5), will be the site for the weekend games if they win.
Bethany earned fourth place in the PAC regular season standings by setting a school-record with 11 league triumphs and moved into the conference tournament semifinals with a 71-52 victory over Westminster in the opening round. In the semifinals, BC was defeated by the host and eventual champion Thomas More 83-56.
The Bison are led by a pair of Honorable Mention All-PAC players. Junior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley) was the team’s leading scorer with 11.3 points per game and also ranked third in the squad with 5.4 boards per game. Senior Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) also garnered her second All-PAC award of her career after averaging 11.1 points and 2.7 assists. Back on Feb. 11th in an overtime win at Thiel, she scored a career-high 23 points and became the 15th player in BC history to reach 1,000 career points.
Five seniors highlight the Bison roster and helped lift the program to this postseason appearance. In addition to Wilson, Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia) averaged 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds a game and Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) led the team with 6.0 boards per contest and added 8.3 points. Rounding out the seniors is Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central), who is scoring 7.9 points and hitting a team-best 39.2 percent (31-79) from the arc, and Kelly Zogran (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson), who has 3.3 points a game.
Overall for the program, this is the Bison’s 10th postseason trip and fourth ECAC bid. The last time the Green and White played in the ECACs was in 1999 when they dropped an opening round match-up against Allentown (now DeSales University). Bethany also reached the ECAC Tournament in 1995 and 1996, but lost in the first round both times to Alvernia and Misericordia, respectively.
Marywood, which is based out of Scranton, Pa., is making its second consecutive ECAC Tournament appearance. Last year, the Pacers travelled to Penn State Behrend and lost a 68-65 decision in the opening round. This year, Marywood is similar to Bethany in that they took reached the conference tournament semifinals before losing to the eventual champions. The Pacers gave #1 seed Gwynedd-Mercy all they could handle before losing a heart-breaking 82-78 decision in double overtime.
Also like the Bison, Marywood is boosted by a strong senior class, as the three Pacers playing in their final season all surpassed 1,000 career points this year. Second Team All-CSAC pick Mariah Schaeffer, a 5-7 guard, is averaging 10.4 points per game. The leading scorer is 5-10 senior guard Marielle Thorsen, who is averaging 10.7 markers per game and 5-8 guard Allison Bruet, an Honorable Mention All-CSAC selection, is posting 9.1 points and 2.6 steals a game. The Pacers thrive on defensive pressure, as they are forcing an average of 24.6 turnovers per game and making 13.7 steals as well.
There is one common opponent between the teams this year. While down in the Bahamas before Christmas, Bethany played CSAC member Immaculata and recorded a 76-54 victory behind 15 points from Wilson and 12 markers and nine rebounds from Shepherd. In Marywood’s lone match-up with Immaculata on Feb. 13th, the Pacers fell behind by 19 in the first half before a furious second half rally came up just short in a 68-66 loss. Freshman center Maggie Presnal came off the bench for 20 points and nine boards in the loss for Marywood.