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Bison Begin Final Home Stretch Wednesday vs. Chatham
Feb. 5 -BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team opens its final two-game home stand Wednesday night and can clinch a spot in the PAC Tournament with a win when it hosts Chatham in a 7 p.m. tip-off.
The Bison’s offensive struggles continued Saturday, as the Green and White shot 30 percent from the field and were out-rebounded by 12 in suffering a 69-55 defeat at Thiel. Bethany (6-15, 4-10) trailed by 14 to start the game, but trimmed the deficit to five by halftime. The Tomcats opened the second half with seven straight points and BC was never closer than nine the rest of the day. Junior Taylor Verrico (right - Monaca, Pa./Quigley) had team-highs of 13 points and four assists, while Mikyla Tipton (Wellsville, Ohio) scored 12 and sophomore Monica Westerheide (Zanesville, Ohio/Bishop Rosecrans) chipped in 10 points.
The top eight teams make the PAC Tournament and Bethany currently leads Chatham (3-18, 2-12) by two games with four to play. A win would give the Bison a three-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Cougars, ensuring BC would return to the league playoffs. However, Bethany is looking to move back up the standings to avoid the top seed, likely Thomas More, in the opening round of the tournament, so the Bison will need a victory Wednesday and help down the stretch to try to catch Thiel (6-15, 5-9) for the seventh seed.
Thanks to a big win over Chatham in the first meeting Jan. 9, the Bison are in position to sweep the season series from the Cougars. Bethany notched 62 points in the paint and set a season-high for scoring in the 77-58 triumph. Freshman Brianna Nuzum (right - Morgantown, W.Va.) set a season-high with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Firing in 13 points each was Tipton and Verrico and senior Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley) totaled nine points, including the 1,000th of her career, six rebounds and six assists. For Chatham, Carly Zelenak led all scorers with 19 points and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Despite a huge game from 6-3 forward Emily Schmidt, Chatham lost its last outing by a 70-52 count to visiting Westminster Saturday. Schmidt came off the bench to tally 24 points and nine rebounds, but 26 Cougar turnovers were too much for them to overcome. While Schmidt shot 10-of-17 in the game, the rest of the Chatham side was just 11-of-38 from the field.
Although the Cougars rank ninth in the PAC in scoring, the team can be a threat from the arc. Chatham is ranked sixth in the league with 4.8 treys per game and the Cougars are fifth in the PAC in three-point percentage. Freshman guard Rachel McClain is 10th in the conference with 10.4 points per game and she ranks third in threes made (45) and fourth in three-point percentage (38.1). Schmidt is second on the team in scoring with 7.1 point per game and Zelenak is the team’s top rebounder with 6.8 boards a contest.