The Bethel College women’s basketball team was by no means perfect Saturday in a 51-49 win over Sterling in KCAC play at Thresher Gym, but the Threshers were effective when they needed to be. Sophomore guard Haley Bright hit a jumper just inside the 3-point line with 15 seconds remaining in regulation to break the tie. Bethel then made the defensive stop for the win. Bethel outscored Sterling 26-19 in the second half, holding the Warriors to five of 22 from the field. “It did help that Lori Bauer was out for them,” Bethel coach Mark Fox said. “That’s a big presence for them. We did a good job of playing to the scouting report. It’s really nice to see the kids’ efforts rewarded. They’ve been playing so hard. It’s nice to get a W every once in a while. This was good for them, for their pyches.” Bethel was outscored 15-9 from the free throw line and 6-0 from 3-point range. The Threshers were more effective in the paint, an area where the team has struggled. Lauren Ulrich led Bethel with 16 points. Katie Regier had 10 rebounds. Sterling, 12-14 overall and 8-8 in the KCAC, was led by Berean Academy grad Kayla Eilert with 18 points. Cassi Spliess added 12 points. “We did a better job of attacking the rim,” Fox said. “We had some strange lineups out there at times because of foul trouble. Taylor (Durant) had one of her better games tonight.” The win was Bethel’s third over Sterling in the last four meetings. Bethel jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first five minutes of play. Sterling then made an 8-2 run of its own. Bethel took a time out, but Sterling was able to continue to pull out by nine. A Kendra Scott jumper with 3.5 seconds left in the half got the Thershers within five, 30-25, at intermission. Bethel made another surge at the start of the second half. A Jaime Tschetter jumper with 15 minutes remaining in regulation tied the game 35-35. Bethel took a 49-48 lead on a Durant layup with 4:15 remaining. Randi Lucas tied the game for Sterling with one of two free throws with 1:08 in regulation. After Bright put the Threshers back in the lead, Sterling drove the ball the length of the court, but the ball was knocked away by the Threshers with 2.2 seconds in regulation. A despatation heave by Eilert hit the rim and bounced Bethel’s way. “I put Haley out there because I wanted her to shoot the three,” Fox said. “She gave a good shot fake, got in the clear. The kids did a good job of executing what I thought we wanted them to do. We defended so well in the second half.” Bethel improves to 7-18, 3-13 in the KCAC. Bethel hosts Southwestern at 6 p.m. Thursday. Bethel needs two wins, coupled with two Bethany or Ottawa losses, to advance to the KCAC playoffs. “That’s going to be a totally different game,” Fox said. “It will be a lot more like Ottawa and (Kansas Wesleyan). It will be a lot more dribble drive, not something we’ve done well against, but we’ve been working on it and getting better. “It’s been a challenging year in terms of wins and losses, but it hasn’t been all about that. That’s pretty low on the list of priorities. It’s about getting better for the future. I looked at our stats last year. Jessica Ebenkamp played 80 minutes last year. She played over 600 this year. Katie hardly played. Haley didn’t play. You take out an All-American from the lineup like Chelsea Harris, and someone like April Harpe, who is the best athlete in the conference, that makes a difference.”

STERLING (12-14, 8-8 KCAC) — Waters 2-5 0-0 4, Lucas 1-5 4-6 6, Branch 1-4 0-0 2, Eilert 5-14 8-12 18, Spliess 4-10 3-4 12, Faul 1-7 0-0 3, Brickell 1-1 0-0 2, Burnett 0-2 0-0 0, Rivera 0-0 0-0 0, McGrath 1-2 0-1 2, TOTALS 16-50 15-23 49. BETHEL (7-18, 3-13 KCAC) — Durant 3-10 2-2 8, Ebenkamp 2-3 2-4 6, Ulrich 7-14 2-4 16, Regier 2-8 2-2 6, Wilkerson 0-4 0-0 0, Zerger 0-1 0-0 0, Scott 3-5 1-2 7, Brit.Bates 0-1 0-0 0, Tschetter 3-4 0-0 6, Bright 1-3 0-0 2, TOTALS 21-53 9-14 51. Sterling 30 19 —49 Bethel 25 26 —51 Total fouls — SC 15, BC 19. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — BC: Tschetter. 3-point shooting — SC 2-8 (Spliess 1-2, Faul 1-5, Burnett 0-1), BC 0-5 (Ulrich 0-3, Wilkerson 0-1, Zerger 0-1). Rebounds — SC 38 (Eilert 8), BC 36 (Regier 10). Assists — SC 11 (Eilert 6), BC 10 (Wilkerson 4). Turnovers — SC 14 (Faul 3), BC 19 (Tschetter 5). Blocked shots — SC 2 (Eilert 1, Burnett 1), BC 3 (three with 1). Steals — SC 9 (Eilert 4), BC 6 (Durant 2).