BC women unable to finish against Sterling
When you have the 14th-ranked team in the NAIA on the ropes, you’d better deliver the knockout punch.
The Bethel College women’s basketball team failed to do that Monday night in a 70-68 loss to unbeaten Sterling College in KCAC play.
Bethel led by nine late in the third quarter, with chances to stretch that lead, but gave up a 13-0 run that extended into the fourth quarter.
The game was Sterling’s closest of the season. It snaps a six-game winning streak for the Threshers.
“It was crazy. It was a really good game, two really good basketball teams,” Bethel coach Drew Johnson said. “They are really well coached. The have a bunch of good players. I thought (Kylah) Comley hit a bunch of shots down the stretch that were big time. We punched back as well. I know it was a fun game and our players had fun playing it.”
Kylah Comley led 21-0 Sterling with 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Emmiley Hendrixson added 15 points.
Bethel was led by Alex Bearup with 25 points on eight of 15 shooting. Bearup matched her career high, which came last year against Sterling. Josie Calzonetti scored 10 points. Abby Schmidt was held to seven points, about half her average, but had 22 rebounds.
“Shots were falling,” Bearup said. “Shots weren’t falling at the end, which happens. We played hard. We definitely played hard. They weren’t expecting us to play that hard. I’m proud of our performance. Things are coming together as a team. Everybody wants to double-team Abby. Abby has been working hard at finding the open person. That’s helping us knocking down the shots.”
“Alex was huge,” Johnson said. “Josie hit some big-time shots in the second half. Zayda Perez played some big-time minutes. You could go down the line. We’re really starting to feel we have other players who can make plays and do things to win.”
Bethel falls to 5 1/2 games behind Sterling with eight games remaining. The Threshers remain in second place in the conference, a game ahead of Tabor.
“We’re not catching them at this point, but we want to keep playing our best basketball,” Johnson said. “If we can play our best basketball at the end of the season, it will be really fun.”
Bethel trailed 7-0 early, but rallied to take a 12-10 lead. Sterling then made a 9-0 run and ended the quarter leading 23-17.
Bethel took the lead in the second quarter on a Macie Price layup with 2:09 remaining, followed by 3-pointers for Perez and Bearup, putting Bethel up by seven. Sterling managed to get a pair of free throws in the remaining time, keeping Bethel ahead 39-34.
Bethel led by as many as nine in the third quarter with chances to extend the lead.
Sterling followed with an 8-0 run capped by a Taya Wilson layup at the buzzer to get the Warriors within one, 56-55.
Sterling extended its run by five more points to start the fourth quarter. Schmidt broke the run with a layup, missing a free throw on the play.
Bethel got back within one on a Calzonetti trey with 4:16 remaining. After a pair of defensive stops, Bearup hit a 3-pointer to put the Threshers up by two.
Sterling replied with a layup and one of two free throws. A Sterling steal set up one of two free throws for Bailey Bangert with 16.5 seconds in regulation. Bethel rebounded the miss. Bethel missed a layup and fouled on the rebound. With 7.4 seconds remaining, Sterling missed a pair of free throws. A Bethel shot at the buzzer rimmed off.
Bethel plays at 5 p.m. Saturday at McPherson, 12-7 overall and 9-7 in KCAC play. The Threshers beat the Bulldogs 78-73 earlier this season. The game features the top two rebounders in the NAIA in Schmdidt and Brittany Roberts of McPherson.
“This stretch is tough and Mac is a good basketball team,” Johnson said. “… They are going to get after it. They are going to press and trap and try to turn you over. We’re going to really need to be solid. Brittany Roberts is obviously a very good basketball player.”
STERLING (21-0, 17-0 KCAC) — Theus 3-10 0-2 6, Wilson 1-1 0-0 2, Comley 10-18 3-4 26, B.Bangert 2-8 5-8 9, Eilert 4-6 0-0 8, Hendrixson 5-11 1-2 15, S.Bangert 0-1 0-0 0, Stucky 1-4 2-2 4, Carmack 0-0 0-0 0l McCormack 0-0 0-0 0, TOTALS 29-56 11-18 70.
BETHEL (12-6, 12-4 KCAC) — Schmidt 2-5 3-7 7, Jones 2-9 0-0 4, Michalski 2-11 1-4 7, Calzonetti 4-9 0-0 10, Price 2-12 0-0 8, Perez 3-6 0-0 7, Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Bearup 8-15 3-4 25, TOTALS 24-67 7-15 68.
Total fouls — SC 17, BC 14. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — SC 7-16 (Comley 3-5, B.Bangert 0-2, Hendrixson 3-8, S.Bangert 0-1), BC 13-34 (Jones 0-3, Michalski 2-9, Calzonetti 2-5, Price 2-6, Perez 1-3, Bearup 6-8). Rebounds — SC 32 (Wilson 8), BC 48 (Schmidt 22). Assists — SC 14 (Comley 7), BC 17 (Calzonetti 7). Turnovers — SC 8 (Comley 4), BC 15 (Jones 3, Michalski 3). Blocked shots — SC 2 (Wilson 2), BC 4 (Schmidt 3). Steals — SC 8 (B.Bangert 2), BC 2 (Calzonetti 1, Perez 1).
Mark Schnabel can be reached at email@example.com.