One of the best stories of the KCAC basketball season continues to get better. The Bethany College womens’ basketball team continues to win; at a rate not seen in at least 10 years.
On Saturday, the Swedes would hang on for a 66-56 road win at Bethel, launching the Swedes back to two games above .500 in league play.
In another grind-it-out, gritty game, Bethany would struggle to pull away from an also improving Bethel squad until the final minute of the game.
Bethany got a great bounce back effort from Cassidy Enns and her inside-out game would lead the Swedes to a 20-14 first quarter advantage. However, Bethel would rally in the second quarter doing something that no other KCAC foe has been able to against the Swedes all season: pull down more rebounds than Bethany.
Led by good defense and rebounding, Bethel was able to trim the Swedes lead to just three point at halftime, 29-26 as Enns and Lauren Welsch led the way offensive for Bethany.
The two teams would go back-and-forth all third stanza. Every time Bethany would score, Bethel would answer. At one point, Bethany would actually surrender the lead for the first time all game late in the period, although Bethany was able to hold a slim 44-43 lead going in to the deciding quarter.
With both teams being significantly hampered by foul trouble and the Swedes down 54-53 with 2:26 left, Bethany would turn to a familiar face to finish the job. Marissa Pope would flex her muscle in the final two minutes as the Swede junior would draw a charging foul and block a shot on defense and hit back-to-back 3s on offense to put Bethany over the hump for good.
Bethany (11-8, 7-5 KCAC) would hit free throws down the stretch to finally pull away from Bethel. The Swedes were led by Welsch with 19 points and Enns added 13.
Bethel (6-14, 2-10 KCAC) saw three players score in double-figures with Jade Brown with 12 points and both Kelsey Potter and Riley Schmieder had 10.
The Salina Ortho “Player of the Game” was Bethany’s Pope, who finished with 16 points and went 10-14 from the FT line. Bethany plays at county rival, McPherson on Wednesday.
Bethel 101, BETHANY 75
The Bethany mens’ basketball team couldn’t get anything going on both ends of the floor on Saturday night, as the Swedes struggled mightily at Bethel.
Bethany would begin the game in a 15-2 hole due to poor defense. A Swede 7-0 run would get Bethany back in to the game at 15-9, however, that would be the closest the Swedes would get all night as Bethel would then go on a 19-4 extended run to end any hopes Bethany had at rallying.
The Swedes executed poorly on both ends of the floor, while Bethel would make 16 3-pointers and shoot 53% from the floor.
Bethany (6-14, 2-10 KCAC) saw just two scorers in double-figures with Tyler Larkin and Isiah Saenz with both 14 and 13 respectively.
Bethel (6-13, 4-8 KCAC) had six scorers in double-figures. Chase Banister scored 20 points, Joe Rushing had 14, Dakota Foster had 13 and Poe Bryant and Jalal Gondal both netted 11 points.
The Salina Ortho “Player of the Game” for Bethany was Tyler Larkin.
Bethany heads to the ‘McPherson County Rivalry’ next as the Swedes play at McPherson next Wednesday night. Tip times are set for 6/8 p.m. on 95.5 The Rock.