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BETHANY HEADS TO THOMAS MORE IN SEARCH OF PAC TITLE
Feb. 23 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After pulling away for a quarterfinal victory Tuesday, the Bethany College women’s basketball team will travel to Thomas More this weekend in search of the program’s first PAC championship since the 2003-04 season.
The number one seed Thomas More will host the semifinals and championship this weekend. The opening semifinal will feature #2 Saint Vincent (21-5) against #3 Waynesburg (20-6) at 5:30 p.m. The Bison and Saints (22-4) will take the floor in the second game Friday at 8 p.m., with the winners to play in the championship contest Saturday at 5 p.m.
The fourth-seeded Bison improved to 16-10 for the year with a 71-52 victory over #5 Westminster Tuesday night. It was only a four-point BC lead at halftime, but the Green and White scored the first nine points of the second half and their lead was never smaller than 10 points the rest of the night. Senior guard Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) fired in 12 of her game-high 18 points after halftime to spark the victory, while senior forward Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) had 12 points and pulled down a career-high 16 boards.
Wilson enters her final PAC Tournament on a roll. Since scoring a career-high 23 points in an overtime win at Thiel Feb. 11th, which put her over 1,000 career points, the 5-4 guard is averaging 16.8 points over the last four games. Wilson has made 7-of-16 from the three-point line (43.7 percent) and has been nearly automatic from the charity stripe, sinking 16-of-17, including all eight of her tries in the Thiel victory.
The BC win on Tuesday pushed them to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2008-09. With their 16th victory of the year, the Bison have the most triumphs by the program since going 23-5 in 2003-04, which was the last time Bethany won the PAC championship. The Bison’s last two semifinal appearances have also been trips to Thomas More. In 2007, the Green and White dropped a 62-49 decision to the Saints and BC was knocked off by Washington & Jefferson 78-62 in the 2009 semifinals.
Bethany will be trying to pick up its first-ever win at Thomas More. The Saints swept the season series from the Bison by scores of 83-64 at BC and 85-52 in Kentucky on Feb. 1st. Bethany sophomore Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) scored a career-high 14 points in the initial meeting and Wilson was the lone Bison to reach double figures in the second game with 10 markers.
Thomas More, who is in search of its sixth straight PAC title, was led by Katie Kitchen in both victories over BC with 17 in the road win and 23 in the second match-up. However, she suffered a season-ending injury in the next-to-last regular season game, so TMC has had to adapt. They have rolled on, finishing off Saint Vincent to clinch the #1 seed and then besting Chatham before dispatching Grove City 70-47 in the quarterfinals Tuesday. Guards Allison Long and Devin Beasley both hit for 15 and Katie Kees had 11 points and 13 boards inside.
Despite the absence of Kitchen, who was scoring a team-best 15.3 points per game, Thomas More still has multiple threats in the backcourt. Point guard Allison Long is averaging 14.5 points and 3.6 assists a game, while Beasley is putting up 8.2 points and 4.4 assists. Kees (7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Moriah Corey (6.8 points, 7.4 rebounds) leads a solid group down low.
In the other semifinal, Saint Vincent will be trying to get to its second straight PAC championship game. The Bearcats followed a big win over Bethany in the regular season finale with a narrow 70-64 victory over #7 Washington & Jefferson in the quarterfinals. Saint Vincent knocked down 12 three-pointers and was led by Brittany Sedlock with 30 points and 13 rebounds and Devin McGrath with nine points, 13 rebounds, six blocks and five assists. Sedlock is the PAC leader in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (9.8), while McGrath tops the circuit in steals (3.31).
Although Waynesburg is the lower seed, they took down Saint Vincent twice this season by scores of 59-53 at SVC and 74-66 at home. The Yellow Jackets moved on from the quarterfinals with an 80-68 triumph over #6 Thiel behind an incredible performance from senior point guard Hannah Hunter, who amassed 28 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and five steals. Guard Jessi Drayer is the top scorer with 14.8 points, while Hunter is recording 13.4 points, 5.4 assists and 3.0 steals a contest.