BISON HOPE TO BUILD MORE MOMENTUM SATURDAY AT WESTMINSTER
Jan. 13 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Fresh off its first PAC victory of the new calendar year, the Bethany College women’s basketball team will try to make it two in a row and stay in the top half of the PAC when its travels to Westminster for a 2 p.m. match-up in New Wilmington, Pa.
The Bison (8-6, 4-3) snapped a three-game conference losing skid with a 76-63 triumph at home over Thiel Wednesday. An opportunistic BC squad forced 20 Tomcat turnovers and converted those into 29 points. Eleven different Bison scored to highlight the balanced attack, led by 14 points from senior forward Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) and junior guard Kayla Taormina (Center Twp., Pa./Quigley). In addition, with a dozen markers in the win, senior guard Anne Wilson (Saegertown, Pa./Cambridge Springs) went over 900 for her career and now has 902.
One key to Bethany lighting up the scoreboard, as the Green and White ranks third with 69.6 points in conference games this year, is the team’s ability to distribute the basketball. Led by sophomore guard Ty Harris’ (Wintersville, Ohio/Indian Creek) five assists, the Bison piled up 21 in the win over Thiel, the third time they have passed off 21 helpers in a win this year. Bethany has managed more than 21 assists in a game only once in the last five years and currently ranks second in the PAC with 15.64 assists per game this year.
Recent games between Bethany and Westminster have been hard fought and come down to the end. The Green and White have won six of the last eight meetings to forge a 15-12 advantage in the all-time series, but those eight games have been decided by an average of 7.5 points. Last year, the Bison rode a career-high 24 points from Taormina to post a 60-53 triumph at home. The second game was a defensive struggle, with BC eventually pulling out a 56-45 decision behind 12 points from Kelly Zogran (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) and 11 from Hackathorn.
One player who seems to have Westminster’s number is Taormina. Her outburst against the Titans in last year’s home game has become a theme for her career. In four career meetings with Westminster, Taormina is averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting a red-hot 62 percent (24-39) from the field and 67 percent (10-15) from the arc.
This year had a difficult start for the Titans (3-10, 3-4) with seven straight losses to open the campaign. Things have turned for Westminster recently with a 3-3 record in their last six, including wins in two of the last three outings. On Wednesday, the Titans forced 28 turnovers and limited Chatham to 25 percent shooting from the floor in a 57-38 victory. Forward Katie Hughes led the offense with a game-best 14 points and guard Courtney Zitt recorded 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
While Westminster has struggled with ball security in committing 21.2 turnovers per game, the Titans have been strong on the glass with the third-best rebounding margin in the league (+7.5). The offense is only scoring 54.4 points per game, with Zitt (10.3) as the only double-figure scorer this year. Forward Emily Dolsak leads the Titan charges on the boards with 7.2 per game and is adding 8.3 points per game and the Bison will have to be aware of Gabby Holko (7.8 points per game) on the perimeter, as the 5-6 sophomore guard is third in the PAC in three-point percentage (42.6).