Feb. 23 - WASHINGTON, Pa. – The Bethany College women’s basketball team rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to lead Washington & Jefferson in the closing seconds, but W&J’s Kennan Killeen hit a jumper with 4.4 seconds left to give the Presidents a 66-65 win over the Bison in the PAC Tournament Quarterfinals.
The narrow loss ends the Bison’s season with a 7-19 record, while W&J improves to 23-3 and advances to the semifinals to play Westminster Friday at top-seed and host Thomas More.
The Presidents used six points from Maggie Gibson to take a 16-8 advantage midway through the opening half. Consecutive treys by freshman Taylor Kress (Sharpsville, Pa.) and sophomore Katelynn Hackathorn (Valley Grove, W.Va./Wheeling Park) trimmed the margin to two and the Bison were able to keep within six at 27-21 going into intermission.
Bethany stayed close through the early stages of the second half until W&J’s Courtney Walsh hit a jumper and converted a traditional three-point play as part of a 7-0 spurt that gave the home team a 38-29 lead with five minutes gone in the second half. Later in the half, a jumper by Gibson and triple by Emily Abraham helped swell the President cushion to its largest of the night, which was at 56-45 following a Vanessa Rivera lay-in at the 6:35 mark.
That’s when the Bison caught fire from the arc to claw back into the contest. The Green and White tallied 14 of the next 18 points, which included two three-pointers from Hackathorn and sophomore Audra Droginske (Wheeling, W.Va./Wheeling Central), to get within 62-61. Following a Gibson score, Hackathorn, who had a huge night, hit a jumper, and then with 1:07 to play, the Bison took their first lead of the game at 63-62 on a lay-in by Taormina.
The lead was short-lived, as Killeen knocked a jumper with 48 seconds left to put W&J back in front. On the other end, Bethany wound up on the foul line after two offensive rebounds. Kress coolly canned both from the charity stripe with 13 seconds on the clock to give BC a 65-64 lead. However, following a foul on the Bison and a W&J timeout, Killeen was able to get loose and knock down a short baseline jumper with 4.4 seconds remaining to put the Presidents ahead. Bethany managed to get a shot off for the win, but the 18-footer was off the mark and W&J survived the Bison’s upset bid.
Leading the near-upset charge was Hackathorn, who set career-highs with 28 points and 14 rebounds, which helped Bethany post a 38-21 rebounding advantage for the game. Hackathorn was the only Bison in double digits, although Kress did finish with nine points and nine boards.
Killeen’s game-winning basket gave her a team-leading 14 points in the win, while Gibson and Rivera each chipped in with 12.