NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – The Bethany women’s basketball team picked up a thrilling 60-54 victory over the no. 4 seed, Bethel College last night in the KCAC Quarterfinals. It was Bethany’s first postseason win since 2010.
The Threshers started this one off with four points in the first minute of the game. The Swedes were able to get on the board with a Kelsi Mueller, junior guard, free throw a minute later. Bethel was able to push their lead to eight points throughout the rest of the first quarter, taking a 16-8 lead into the second 10 minutes of the game.
Bethel then started things off with a free throw to start things off in the second quarter. However, then neither team would score again for the next two minutes when Keisha Hamilton, junior forward, made a put back bucket to cut the Thresher lead to two points. Bethel was able to grow their advantage to a double-digit margin with a short amount of time left in the half but the Swedes drained a three pointer, followed 30 seconds later by a free throw to cut the difference to six points at the break.
Bethany was able to come out firing with an Erin Richardson, senior guard, three to start things off in the third quarter. Another three, this one by Halei Wortham, sophomore guard, tied things up for the first time in the contest. The Threshers were then able to grab the lead back with a free throw but the Swedes made sure that did not last long with a paint bucket by Mueller. The teams then traded the lead one each and tied things up one more time before the Swedes went on a quick 5-0 run to take a solid lead. The Threshers began the process of chipping away at that but they were not able to get things tied up again until the final seconds of the quarter.
With things tied up for the third time to start the fourth quarter, it was a Swede free throw the pushed the advantage to Bethany’s favor. However, things would get tied back up for the fourth time in a short amount of time. The Threshers then went on a small 7-0 run of their own to lead with just over five minutes left in the contest. However, a seven-point swing in the Swedes’ favor tied things up once again. It was not until there was 39 seconds left to play before the Swedes took their final lead of the contest. With that, they went on a 6-0 run in the final seconds of the contest to put the game away in their favor.
With an evened out team effort, only one Swede had double-digit points. Hamilton led the Bethany offense with 12 points. Wortham came next with nine while two Swedes had eight and a pair of Swedes posted seven points. Leading Bethany’s rebounding efforts was Mueller and Sena Aktas, junior guard, with five each. Mueller, Aktas, and Marissa Pope, senior guard, each had three assists to aid the Bethany offense while Aktas was able to pick up two steals in the contest.
As a team, the Swedes pulled down 33 rebounds compared to Bethel’s 34. Bethany shot 38.3% from the field and 35.7% from long range after the Swedes made four of their eight three point attempts in the second half.
The Swedes travel next to Hillsboro, Kan. on Saturday, February 23 for the semifinal matchup. Bethany will face the no. 1 seed, Tabor College. The Bluejays are ranked no. 10 nationally; they defeated the Avila Eagles in their quarterfinal match 62-56. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m, and can be heard on KVOB-FM 95.5 The Rock.