Nov. 23 – BETHANY, W. Va. – Getting career-bests from two different players, the Bethany College women’s basketball team defeated Penn State – Beaver 91-76 on Saturday afternoon in Bethany. Senior Taylor Verrico (Monaca, Pa./Quigley) notched a career-best 24 points, while sophomore Sami Schott (Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) totaled her first-career double-double, scoring 16 points and adding 11 rebounds.
The Bison never trailed in the contest, scoring the first points of the game on free throws from Gabrielle Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range). With the game tied at 4-4, Bethany would go on a 13-3 run that would span almost five minutes to push the advantage to 10 points (17-7). Six different Bison scored a basket in the run, including Skylar Williams (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) and Lauren Simpson (Washington, Pa./Trinity), who each hit a three-point basket.
Beaver would fight back in the first half, going on a 12-to-3 run, cutting the lead to one point (20-19) on a layup by Mason DePetro. However, the Bison would have an answer as they pushed the lead back to double digits (35-25) by outscoring Penn State 15-6 over the next four minutes. The run included back-to-back threes by Simpson and Verrico.
Bethany would then run its lead to 15 points (48-33) on Simpson’s third three-point shot of the half with 55 seconds remaining and would ride the momentum into the locker room with a 12-point advantage (48-36).
“It was nice to come out and get rolling early,” remarked head coach Rebecca Upton. “After the tough loss we took earlier in the week, it was nice to see the players really respond well and come out ready to play, especially being as young as we are.”
The Bison made the most out of the hustle plays in the first half, outscoring Penn State-Beaver 11-4 in second-chance points. The team also got 19 first-half points from the Bison bench, including nine from Simpson and five from Shelva Burns (Weirton, W. Va./Weir) in the opening stanza.
In the second half, Bethany would step on the gas pedal, pushing the advantage to 20 points (66-46) on a put-back by Verrico with 12:34 remaining in the game. Beaver would respond by cutting the lead to 11 (78-67) with 4:50 to play, but that is as close as the Bison would allow them to get, outscoring Beaver 13-9 down the stretch to walk away with the 15-point victory (91-76).
The Bison received at least six points from eight of the 11 players that stepped on the floor, led by 24 points from Verrico. Schott added 16 points in the contest, while Burns finished in double figures for the first time in her young career with 12. Simpson finished the day with nine points, while Mikyla Tipton (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville), Gabrielle Naples, Carly Grady (Keyser, W. Va./Keyser) and Alexis Naples (Salem, Ohio/South Range) all added six.
For Verrico, the 24 points marked a career high, surpassing her previous best of 21 which she achieved three times over the 2012-13 campaign. She also finished the game with a career-best 11 rebounds, totaling the first double-double of her career.
“It was nice to see Taylor bounce back and really get going in this game,” remarked Upton of her senior guard. “As one of the two seniors on the team, she feels a lot of pressure to perform out there, and it was great to see her step up the way she did today.”
Schott also achieved her first double-double, finishing the day with 11 boards to go along with her 16 points. She helped the Bison control the glass, grabbing five of the team’s 20 offensive rebounds. Schott also shot very efficiently, finishing the day 5-of-10 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“Sami is always trying to grow as a player and constantly get better,” remarked Upton. “It is great to see how she matured so much as a player already in just her second game as a sophomore. Not only is she talented in terms of her versatility, but she has a real head for the game and is turning into our leader in the post.”
Not only did the upperclassmen play well in the Bison’s victory, but the freshmen class stepped up big, notching 34 of the team’s points. Burns led all freshmen with 12 points on the day while also chipping in on the boards, finishing with seven. Simpson finished the day 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line and Alexis Naples stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with five boards and five assists to go along with her six points.
“The newcomers this year have to contribute if we want to be successful,” commented Upton. “We have to put a lot of trust in our new players, and so far we feel that they have answered the call nicely in our first couple of games.”
As a team, Bethany outrebounded Beaver by a total of 53-39 while holding Penn State to 40% shooting and forcing them into 24 turnovers on the day. The Bison also took advantage of the charity-stripe, shooting 86% from the free-throw line (31-of-36).
The team’s 91 points are the most scored by the program since a 91-87 overtime victory over Thiel during the 2011-12 campaign. It also becomes just the fifth time in the past 10 seasons that the Bison have eclipsed 90 points, with the high-water mark being set at 99 in a win over Saint Vincent in 2008.
Bethany will be back in action on Tuesday, November 26 when the Bison host the University of Mount Union. The contest is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. start.