Feb. 20 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After setting a new school record for conference wins in a season, the fourth-seeded Bethany College women’s basketball team will host fifth-seeded Westminster in a PAC Tournament Quarterfinal Tuesday night. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.
The Bison finished the regular season with a 15-10 record and an 11-7 mark in the conference, surpassing the previous record of 10 PAC wins set in 2003-04 and equaled again in 2007-08. The year ended on a down note with a 103-50 setback at Saint Vincent Saturday. Senior Renee Shepherd (New Martinsville, W.Va./Magnolia) scored a team-high 13 and senior Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) also reached double digits with 10 in the defeat.
This will be the eighth time in the last nine years the Bison have opened the conference playoffs with a home game. The comforts of Nutting Gymnasium have agreed with BC this year, as they have an 8-4 record on their home floor, including wins in four consecutive contests. The last time Bethany lost at home was on Jan. 18th against Saint Vincent, but the Green and White have pulled out victories over Grove City, Chatham, Washington & Jefferson and Westminster since then.
That victory over Westminster came less than a week ago when Bethany used a late surge to get past the Titans 63-56, which clinched the fourth seed and this tournament home game for the Bison. Trailing 47-43 with just under six minutes to play, BC went on a 12-3 run, fueled by two treys from Shepherd and one each from Wilson and senior Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central) to go in front for good. Five players scored in double figures for the Bison, led by Wilson with 16 and six steals and Droginske with 12 points and seven assists.
Bethany swept the season series from Westminster this year and has won four in a row over the Titans. In the first meeting, BC escaped with a 65-62 road victory behind 15 points from Wilson and 10 apiece from Shepherd and junior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley). Westminster out-rebounded the Bison in that game 53-37, but committed twice as many turnovers as Bethany (16-8). That was a similar script to the meeting last week, as the Titans 42-26 rebounding advantage was wiped out because of 25 turnovers compared to only 10 BC miscues.
The Titans bring a 9-15 overall mark into the game, but went 9-9 in league action. They closed the regular season Saturday in solid fashion by winning at Geneva 58-42. Eleven different players scored in balanced attack, led by Katie Hughes with 12 points on 6-for-7 shooting and Courtney Zitt, who had 11. Westminster shot 48 percent (22-46) from the floor in the win.
The Bison will hope to have nearly the same success defensively on Zitt, the Titans’ leading scorer, as they did in last week’s game. Zitt, who is averaging 10.1 points per game, had 13 in the first meeting between the teams, but did not score in last week’s match-up. Hughes has been tough for the Bison to contend with this year, as she has averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two games. Forward Andi Ridge, who was limited to only 15 games this year, returned to post 14 markers and 11 boards in last week’s contest.
This will only be the second time in PAC Tournament history that Bethany and Westminster have faced off and the first since 2003. That quarterfinal match-up resulted in a 76-60 Titans’ win in New Wilmington. If the Bison win Tuesday, they will reach the conference semifinals for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, while Westminster, who did not qualify for the PAC Tournament last year, is trying to duplicate its last run in the Tournament. As the fourth seed in the 2010 playoffs, the Titans beat Waynesburg and W&J to advance to the championship game before falling to Thomas More.
Fans that can not make the trip to Bethany for the game can follow the action live from their home computer. Both the women’s and men’s games on Tuesday will be video streamed live by the Bethany Broadcast Network at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/bethanywv.portal#.