Win no. 20 for the Bethel College women’s basketball team was anything but easy as the Threshers saw a 20-point lead evaporate to three before pulling away for a 70—57 win over Friends University Tuesday night in KCAC play at Thresher Gym.
Bethel improves to 20-8, the first 20-win season in the history of the BC women. Bethel improves to 15-8 in the KCAC, clinching fourth place and a first-round playoff game set for Feb. 21.
“Winning no. 1 wasn’t easy and winning no. 20 wasn’t easy; and everything in between,” Bethel coach Drew Johnson said. “I’m proud of our team for continuing to fight. We went a little stagnant there. We had 30 turnovers; finding a way to still win when you had to grind it out. Friends came storming back. I give them credit for how hard they played in this one. I’m so proud of the way our girls fought.”
There is still a chance that Bethel and Friends could meet in the first round of the playoffs.
“You just have to take it one game at a time,” Johnson said. “We still have one game left with Mac. I think that game preps us for the conference tournament. It’s a long tournament. You have to beat who’s in front of you. You can’t guess. You have to be ready for whoever you play.”
Bethel was led by Abby Schmidt with 22 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots. Freshman Alex Bearup had 12 points. Senior Jade Brown had 11 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
Schmidt posted her 16th double-double of the season. Brown posted her sixth.
“I feel like I got on the ball right away,” Brown said. “The last time we played them, we got off to a slow start. The second half, they got into it. The first half, we started off really hot. The momentum went the other way, that was hard.
“It’s hard to think about (the final games). I’m going to miss playing with these guys. When I start to think about it, I start getting emotional. I keep thinking about it as another game we need to win.”
“We started off really well as a whole,” Schmidt said. “We were really focused. We did exactly what we’re suppose to do.”
Schmidt broke the single-season rebound record Saturday and is on track for a number of other records.
“It’s not who scores the most points or gets the most rebounds or whatever,” Schmidt said. “Those are great honors, but that’s not why I play basketball. I play basketball to be on a team like this. The success we’ve had is why I play. … (Twenty wins) is really an incredible thing for this team’s history. It’s never been done here. It’s not something to take lightly. It’s really special. It’s a testament to all the hard work that’s been put in.”
Kahadijah Kelly led Friends with 16 points. Friends drops to 12-16, 12-11 in KCAC play. The Falcons drop to sixth place in the conference.
Bethel didn’t score for more than three minutes, but only trailed 6-2. The Threshers ended the quarter on a 21-2 run to lead 23-8.
Bethel led by as many as 20 in the second quarter. Schmidt had the double-double with 1:41 left in the half, getting fouled on a rebound and hitting one of two free throws.
A Lexi Evans trey with a minute left got Friends within 17. Evans hit another one with seven seconds to cut the Thresher lead to 14, 36-22, at intermission.
Bethel opened the third quarter with a 6-2 run. Friends got back in the game with a 4-0 run.
An Alex Mullinax three-point play with 2:57 left in the quarter cut the Bethel lead to 11. The Threshers turned the ball over on their next two possessions, setting up a Naria Hall 3-pointer. Kayla Newman broke the Friends run with a short jumper. A Daija Styles trey with five seconds left in the period cut the Bethel lead to five, 48-43.
Friends opened the fourth quarter with a layup. Bethel turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter.
Schmidt hit two free throws with 7:58 in regulation. Schmidt followed with a layup off a Brown steal and assist. Brown then stole the ball and drove in for the layup. Lauren Anderson broke the run with a three-point play with 6:02 in regulation. Schmidt answered with a layup 24 seconds later, but missed a free throw on the play.
A Josie Calzonetti jumper from the free throw line with 4:18 to play put Bethel back up by 10. Friends again got to within four on a Hall layup with 1:54 to play. After a turnover, Kelly hit one of two free throws.
Riley Schmieder hit two free throws with 1:23 in regulation to put Bethel back up by five. Brown followed with one of two free throws.
After a Friends miss, Brown hit two free throws with 29.3 seconds left. Bearup put things away with two free throws with 19.6 seconds left.
Bethel beat McPherson 74-65 in January. The Bulldogs are 12-17, 8-15 in KCAC play after a 63-50 win at Saint Mary.
“We have to handle their pressure,” Johnson said. “They will be in press the whole game. They have some good players. They are playing well right now. They are making shots. We have to come in with the mentality that the season is not over.”
FRIENDS (12-16, 12-11 KCAC) — Lexi Evans 3-11 0-0 9, Alex Mulinax 2-5 1-1 5, Tiffany Hurd 0-1 0-0 0, Sandra Hodge 0-1 0-0 0, Laramie Edens 3-10 0-0 6, Daija Styles 1-8 2-2 5, Lauren Anderson 3-5 1-1 7, Khadijah Kelly 7-23 2-4 16, Naria Hall 3-10 2-2 9, HaLee Roland 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22-74 8-10 57.
BETHEL (20-8, 15-8 KCAC) — Caitlin Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Alyjah Kennedy 0-0 0-0 0, Karlie Schroeder 1-5 0-0 2, Josie Calzonetti 3-7 1-2 8, Riley Schmieder 2-3 5-5 9, Jade Brown 3-7 5-8 11, Kayla Newman 3-3 0-0 6, Alex Bearup 4-8 2-3 12, Abby Schmidt 7-13 8-11 22. TOTALS 23-48 21-29 70.
Total fouls — Fr. 22, BC 12. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — Fr. 5-17 (Evans 3-11, Edens 0-1, Styles 1-2, Hall 1-3), BC 3-13 (Williams 0-2, Schroeder 0-1, Calzonetti 1-3, Brown 0-2, Bearup 2-5). Rebounds — Fr. 25 (Hall 4, Anderson 4, Styles 4), BC (Schmidt 16). Assists — Fr. 12 (Kelly 7), BC 15 (Brown 6). Turnovers — Fr. 10 (Hall 4), BC 30 (Schroeder 6, Brown 6). Blocked shots — Fr. 3 (Edens 2), BC 6 (Schmidt 4). Steals — Fr. 18 (Kelly 8), BC 7 (Schroeder 2, Brown 2).