In an early battle for first place in the Mid-Central Conference, it was the NAIA Division II 8th-ranked Huntington University Foresters who held off a feisty Bethel Pilot squad for the 57-53 victory. With the win, the Foresters move to 12-3 on the season and 3-1 in the conference. Bethel, who had been the final unbeaten team in MCC play, fell to 12-5 and 4-1.
With five consecutive turnovers to begin the game, Huntington appeared to be rattled by the Pilots’ defense. Despite the miscues, Bethel was only able to turn them into a 5-0 lead three minutes into the contest. Following a timeout, the Foresters settled down and scored the next 12 points with the first six coming from senior point guard Lauren Davenport. With the offense came an increase in intensity on the defensive end as Huntington returned the favor and began to frustrate the Pilots. The Foresters put the clamps on Bethel holding them to just 17 first-half points while building an 11-point margin at intermission.
Huntington continued to add to its lead early in the second half and had owned a 17-point advantage at 41-27 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the contest, but the Pilots would not go away. Bethel made a furious comeback over the next 10 minutes to knot the score at 53-53 on a Heather Seyfred trey with 2:52 to go. On Huntington’s next possession, Courtney Beerbower rebounded a Davenport miss giving the Foresters another opportunity to reclaim the lead. Davenport got a second chance and made good on a driving layup to put the Foresters back up 55-53 with 2:10 left.
After trading misses and a couple turnovers, the Pilots were forced to foul. Bethel sent Jenna Donaldson to the line with 8 ticks left, but she missed the front end of the bonus. The Pilots rebounded the ball and Mandy Yoder was fouled with 3.7 seconds to play. Yoder missed the first and when trying to intentionally miss the second, committed a lane violation by going after the rebound too quickly. The Pilots then sent Beerbower to the line with 2 seconds on the clock and she drilled both for the final margin of victory.
Davenport paced the Foresters with 17 points in the contest. Beerbower recorded her third consecutive double-double with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Sarah Miller also finished with 12 points and Donaldson chipped in 10. Seyfred led Bethel with 17 points, Mandy Yoder had 12 and Bekah Basinger added 11.
Huntington went 25-51 from the field for 49% while the Pilots were 17-49 for 34.7%. Huntington out-rebounded the Wildcats 34-27.