Win no. 8 for the Bethel College women’s basketball team was no easy feat as the Threshers struggled early before putting away the Avila Eagles 56-49 Tuesday night in the first meeting between the two teams as Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foes.
Bethel extends its program-best start to 8-0 and extends its overall winning streak to 11.
“One of the thing you have to do with them being new to the conference is figure them out,” Bethel coach Drew Johnson said. “They hit a couple of shots early. We won the second, third and fourth quarters, but we had to feel them out early and figure out how to execute. We had a short scout.”
Abby Schmidt led the Threshers with 21 points and 19 rebounds. She was held out of Monday night’s exhibition game against NCAA Division II Nebraska-Kearney.
“I tweaked my calf a little against York,” Schmidt said. “I was working on it the past couple of days. It was a good decision to hold me out. That led to me being fresh today. I was able to give everything I had.”
“She had the most bounce she had all season,” Johnson said. “Her body was in much better shape tonight.”
Saturday against York, Schmidt faced a double-team much of the night. Avila elected to defend Schmidt one-on-one.
“We play a team game,” Schmidt said. “If there’s two people double-teaming me, I know someone will step up — a driver or a shooter. If I know a double team comes, I can get it to someone. (Avila) was short, so we were able to get it in from the wings. We were really unselfish passing the ball and getting it inside. We were able to come away with a really exciting win.”
Schmidt has 94 rebounds this season. She had 65 rebounds through her first eight games as a freshman en route to breaking the single-season school record.
“Last year, I was really working on shooting from 15 foot,” Schmidt said. “I was working on my range. This year, I’ve gone back to the basics and work on the little things like finishing.”
Freshman Alex Bearup scored 12 points. Jade Brown had 10 rebounds.
Bethel was 15 of 31 from the free throw line.
“If we continue to get to the line like that, I like how our season outlook is going to be,” Johnson said.
Avila, 2-1 overall and in the conference, was led by Paige Bunn with 19 points. Matt Morgan scored 14.
Bethel trailed 5-0 to start the game and fell down by as many as seven. A Brooke Westrom layup with six seconds left in the quarter put Avila up 17-12.
Bethel was four of 16 shooting in the period while Avila was seven of 17.
After trading baskets early in the second quarter, Bethel was able to pull to within two midway in the period. The Threshers missed several chances to tie or take the lead. Bethel trailed 25-24 at the half.
Riley Schmieder gave Bethel its first lead with a 12-foot jumper seconds into the second half. The Threshers led by as many as five. Morgan hit a trey midway in the period to break the Bethel run and get the Eagles back within two.
As the period progressed, Bethel struggled from the line and Avila struggled with turnovers. Brooke Westrom tied the game with a layup with 1:45 in the period. Bearup replied with a 3-pointer. Bunn tied the game 39-39 with a three-point play with 44.4 seconds left in the quarter.
Bunn opened the fourth quarter with a trey answered by Kendall Michalski. Bearup followed with a three-point play. An Alyiah Kennedy layup put Bethel up by four with about 2:30 remaining. Schmidt hit one of two free throws with 57.1 seconds left to put Bethel up by five. Morgan broke the run with two free throws 5.7 seconds later. Brown answered with two free throws with 43.6 seconds left in regulation. Bethel missed a pair of free throws, but drew an offensive foul with 23.6 seconds to play. Brown put Bethel up by six with one of two free throws with 18 seconds to play. A Karlie Schroeder block set up one of two Brown free throws. Schmidt then secured rebound 19 at the buzzer.
“We wear people out,” Johnson said. “It’s what we try to do. We try to make it a dogfight the entire game. We work hard on our conditioning to have these kinds of games.”
“The start has been incredible,” Schmidt said. “I saw the work we put in before the season. I expected nothing less. We worked very hard for this. It’s been a really, really fun ride. I’m proud of everyone.”
Bethel plays at 6 p.m. Monday at Tabor. The Bluejays are ranked 20th in the NAIA Division II pre-season poll. Tabor is 5-2, 2-1 in KCAC play after a 64-48 win over McPherson.
Bethel beat Tabor 66-65 in overtime in the last meeting between the two teams last season.
“In our conference, everyone is a tough test,” Johnson said. “You have to respect everyone you play. It’s a ranked team on the road. We’ll need our best stuff. I don’t think anyone is going to overlook us now.”
AVILA (2-1, 2-1 KCAC) — Brooke Westrom 3-7 0-0 6, Taylor Faulkner 2-5 2-3 6, Izzy Mitchell 2-3 0-0 4, Brittany Freeman 0-0 0-0 0, Matti Morgan 5-22 2-2 14, Fa'Animo (Nimo) Samara 0-1 0-0 0, Paige Bunn 8-17 1-1 19, Paige Esry 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 20-56 5-6 49.
BETHEL (8-0, 3-0 KCAC) — Bryanna Taylor 1-4 1-2 4, Alyjah Kennedy 3-7 0-3 6, Karlie Schroeder 1-6 0-0 2, Josie Calzonnetti 0-5 0-2 0, Riley Schmieder 1-9 0-0 2, Kendall Michalski 1-7 0-0 3, Jade Brown 0-4 6-8 6, Kayla Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Bearup 5-9 1-1 12, Abby Schmidt 7-11 7-15 21. TOTALS 19-62 15-31 56.
Total fouls — AU 24, BC 14. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — AU: Bunn 23.6-4q. 3-point shooting — AU 4-25 (Westrom 0-1, Faulkner 0-3, Mitchell 0-1, Morgan 2-13, Bunn 2-6, Esry 0-1), BC 3-19 (Taylor 1-3, Kennedy 0-1, Schroeder 0-3, Calzonnetti 0-2, Schmieder 0-2, Michalski 1-4, Bearup 1-4). Rebounds — AU 33 (Westrom 9), BC 45 (Schmidt 19). Assists — AU 6 (Morgan 3), BC 8 (Schroeder 3). Turnovers — AU 20 (Faulkner 5), BC 17 (Brown 7). Blocked shots — AU 2 (Westrom 1, Samara 1), BC 5 (Schmidt 2). Steals — AU 7 (Bunn 4), BC 10 (Kennedy 2, Schroeder 2, Calzonnetti 2, Brown 2).