BISON EYE CHANCE TO MOVE UP PAC STANDINGS SATURDAY AT GROVE CITY
Feb. 4 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After starting the week trying to stay out of the bottom two spots in the PAC standings, the Bethany College women’s basketball team could move all the way up to fourth place if they come away with a victory from their trip to Grove City for a 1 p.m. tip-off Saturday.
The Bison (10-10, 5-6) snapped a four-game losing streak at home Wednesday by defeating Thiel 66-58. An 18-point first-half lead slipped away from BC, as the Tomcats rallied to take a 49-48 lead with 11:35 to go. But nine consecutive points, including seven in a row from sophomore Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley), gave Bethany the lead back for good. Junior Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) scored a season-high 19 to lead the Bison and Taormina recorded her third double-double of the year with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
A key factor to the win Wednesday was Bethany committing a season-low 14 turnovers. It was also just the fourth time this year the Bison made fewer miscues than their opponent and, not surprisingly, BC is 4-0 in those games. In addition to taking care of the basketball against Thiel, Bethany also forced 19 Tomcat turnovers in the game and converted those into 22 points.
The BC triumph, combined with Washington & Jefferson’s loss to Saint Vincent and Grove City overtime defeat at Chatham, made quite a few changes in the PAC standings. The Wolverines (10-10, 6-6) are only a half-game in front of Bethany and W&J, who hosts #1 Thomas More Saturday. If the Bison can earn a win Saturday and Thomas More defeats W&J, Bethany would be alone in fourth place in the conference and be in position to host a PAC Tournament Quarterfinal game, although there are still four regular season games remaining.
However, a Grove City victory would severely damage the Bison’s hopes of an opening-round home playoff game. It would put the Wolverines a game and a half in front of the Green and White, plus GCC would hold the tiebreaker by sweeping the season series. In the initial match-up between the schools Jan. 6, Grove City broke a 59-59 tie by scoring the game’s final seven points, all from the foul line, in the final 1:27 to prevail 66-59 at Hummel Field House. Wolverine forward Christine Slater was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe and scored a game-high 28, which countered the 11 points posted by Bethany senior Tara Harris (Zanesville, Ohio) and junior Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs).
Grove City is trying to regain the momentum they had in early January when they stood at 4-2 in the PAC. Since then however, they have dropped five of their last seven, including two straight. On Wednesday, the Wolverines shot a frigid 29 percent from the field, but still managed to go to overtime with Chatham before falling 64-60. Leading the attack was Leah Gibson with 18 points and Slater with 15 markers and 12 boards, which was her fifth double-double of the year.
Slater has continued to have an MVP-type season for Grove City, as she leads the league in scoring with 18.3 points per game and is second in rebounding with 8.3 boards. Although there is still a chance the teams could play in the PAC Tournament, the Bison are happy Slater is in her senior season and this could be their final meeting, as she is averaging 19.1 points and 10.0 rebounds in seven career games against Bethany. She is complimented offensively by Gibson, who ranks sixth in the league with 13.2 points per game.