The Bethel College women’s basketball team had everything go wrong that could go wrong in the last 4:46 of Thursday’s KCAC post-season tournament quarterfinal against Bethany — an injury, a foul out, turnovers and cold shooting — in a 60-54 Swede win at Thresher Gym.
Leading by seven, Bethel was outscored 14-2 in those final minutes.
“It was a really talented Bethany team,” Bethel coach Drew Johnson said. “They are well coached. It was great execution for them late. There were a couple plays we had hoped to make that we didn’t quite make. That’s part of playoff basketball. It was a cool atmosphere tonight, the fans. Bethany brought great fans as well. That’s what KCAC basketball has turned into. It was a really, really cool environment for post season.”
The game ended a season for the Threshers that re-wrote the record book. The team’s 20 wins was a school record. Abby Schmidt finished with 330 rebounds, a school record for rebounds in a season. Jade Brown finished with 196 defensive rebounds, a school record for defensive rebounds in a season. Riley Schmieder played her 110th game, tying a school record for games played in a career.
Bethany, 19-12, was led by Keisha Hamilton with 12 points. The Swedes face Tabor at 2 p.m. Saturday in the quarterfinals in Hillsboro. It was Bethany’s sixth straight win.
Brown led Bethel with 28 points, a career high. Schmieder added nine points.
“I feel like we settled in, but we settled in too much,” Brown said. “We stopped being as aggressive on offense and we stopped being as aggressive on defense. That hurt us in the end. This season means a lot. Last year, the coach was always asking the seniors what do they want for the team. Ours was to get past the 12 wins, which we did, and to play in the post-season. We did more to get a home game. It was just reaching those goals and going past those goals. I believe in them. Next year, they are going to be 10 times better.”
Brown is a history-political science major who intends to go on to law school.
“I do want to be a lawyer,” she said.
Schmidt was held to six points and four rebounds. The day before she was named conference defensive player of the year, first-team All-KCAC and KCAC all-defensive team.
“It’s a big honor,” Schmidt said. “It’s not just for me, but all my teammates. Defense is not an individual thing. All of the hard work in the summer paid off. None of us are satisfied where we’re at. There will be a little bit of rest, we’re pretty banged up right now. Then we’re going to go back at it. The coach told us to remember what this feels like when you don’t want to work out in the summer. We don’t want to feel like this next year.”
“She’s only a sophomore,” Johnson said. “She’s going to continue to get better. She works relentlessly in the gym. She’ll be a better player as a junior than she was as a sophomore. We’re excited to see what her development is. … She affects the game in so many ways. She affects it with blocks. She affects it with rebounds and length. It’s hard to score when she’s on the floor.”
Bethel finished the season with freshman Kendall Michalski hampered with an ankle injury. Part-time starter Alex Bearup was out with a concussion.
“You want to be as healthy as you can be late in the season,” Johnson said. “We kind of limped into the playoffs. We had a kid with a banged ankle, another with a concussion. There were some other aches and pains. Every team’s got them this time of the year. Last season, we were really healthy. If we could just get into the tournament, we felt like we could beat somebody. This year, it was just hard late in the season.”
The Threshers took the lead from the start. A Brown trey at the buzzer put Bethel up 16-8.
Bethel extended its lead to nine in the second quarter. After Bethany got to within five, Alyjah Kennedy hit a pair of layups. Josie Calzonetti hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left in the half to put the Threshers up by 10.
Newton grad Sarah Bartel hit a trey and one of two Kelsi Mueller free throws got Bethany to within six at the half, 25-19.
Bethany went up by five with 3:02 left in the third quarter. Bethel replied with a 4-0 run. A Brown three-point play with 23 seconds left in the period tied the game.
Schmidt picked up her fourth foul 17 seconds into the fourth quarter, setting up one of two Marissa Pope free throws. Hamilton followed with a jumper.
Bethel replied with a 10-0 run, capped by a Brown jumper from an Alyjah Kennedy steal with 4:46 in regulation. Bethel missed a chance to get the lead to nine.
Newman was injured on a play with 4:11 in regulation and called for the foul. Halei Worthham hit two free throws to break the Thresher run. Sena Aktas followed with two free throws. Aktas then hit a trey with 2:59 to tie the game.
Schmidt put Bethel back up with a layup 26 seconds later. After several Bethel defensive stops the Threshers were unable to take advantage of, Pope hit two free throws with 1:08 in regulation to tie the game as Schmidt fouled out.
A Bethel shot with 48.3 seconds to play was blocked. Brown stole the ball with 41.9 seconds to play, but was called out of bounds.
Aktas hit a layup with 39 seconds to play for the Swedes to break the tie. Pope followed with two free throws. Richardson put the game away with one of two free throws with 7.5 seconds to play. Bethany added one more free throw.
Bethel ends the season 20-10, losing four seniors, including three starters.
“They will be kids we really miss,” Johnson said. “Each one brought their own piece of this puzzle. Each one has their own importance to this team. The impact those four had is hard to put into words and on paper. When you get a new coach, it’s hard to buy into what he says, but they’ve done that. They did that in the weight room, on the court. I’m proud of them.
“We’re almost done (recruiting). We’re just fitting in the last couple pieces of the puzzle. There’s a chance to grow. I think you’re going to see another talented group. The freshman class this year was really good.
“(The returnees) just need to get healthy right now. Then they need to take a step back and see what is the next growth point. Then we’ll go from there.”
BETHANY (19-12) — Alex Tyson 1-1 0-0 2, Megan Hendrickson 0-1 1-2 1, Marissa Pope 1-6 5-6 7, Sarah Bartel 2-7 3-4 8, Halei Wortham 3-4 2-2 9, Hannah Ferguson 0-5 0-0 0, Sitori Carver 0-0 0-0 0, Erin Richardson 2-5 1-2 6, Sena Aktas 2-4 2-2 7, Jordan Valentine 0-0 0-0 0, Keisha Hamilton 5-6 2-3 12, Kelsi Mueller 2-8 3-6 8. TOTALS 18-47 19-27 60.
BETHEL (20-10) — Caitlin Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Alyjah Kennedy 2-2 0-1 4, Karlie Schroeder 0-6 0-0 0, Josie Calzonetti 0-3 1-2 1, Riley Schmieder 3-6 3-6 9, Kendall Michalski 0-2 3-4 3, Jade Brown 8-22 10-10 28, Kayla Newman 1-2 1-4 3, Abby Schmidt 2-5 2-2 6, Sydney Tenant 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 16-49 20-29 54.
Total fouls — Bethany 22, Bethel 24. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — Bethel: Schmidt 1:08-4q. 3-point shooting — Bethany 5-14 (Hendrickson 0-1, Bartel 1-3, Wortham 1-2, Ferguson 0-1, Richardson 1-2, Aktas 1-2, Mueller 1-3), Bethel 2-12 (Williams 0-1, Schroeder 0-2, Calzonetti 0-2, Michalski 0-1, Brown 2-6). Rebounds — Bethany 33 (Ferguson 5, Aktas 5, Mueller 5), Bethel 34 (Calzonetti 6, Newman 6). Assists — Bethany 10 (Pope 3, Aktas 3, Mueller 3), Bethel 5 (Calzonetti 2). Turnovers — Bethany 18 (Bartel 3), Bethel 20 (Brown 6). Blocked shots — Bethany 2 (Hamilton 2), Bethel 3 (Schmidt 2). Steals — Bethany 4 (Aktas 2), Bethel 6 (Kennedy 2, Schroeder 2).