HILLSBORO — With both the Bethel College and Tabor College women’s basketball teams struggling from the field, it was rebounding and free throws that proved to be the difference.
Alex Bearup hit a pair of free throws with 9.5 seconds remaining and got a couple late rebounds to lift Bethel to a 55-52 win over Tabor on Friday night in KCAC play in Hillsboro.
Bearup finished the game with 13 points and six rebounds.
"We practice free throws all day in practice," Bearup said. "We have to run every time we miss a free throw, so I make sure I make my free throws. We run a lot of rebounding drills in practice. We rebounded well and rebounding was key in this game."
Bearup returned to the lineup this week after missing the first four games with COVID-19.
"It was tough. I missed being with my teammates," Bearup said. "It was easy to transition back into play. It was hard to watch my teammates play. It’s been great getting back with my teammates. My heart rate was kind of berserk. It was really high, so I couldn’t come back right away. I finally got back on the court, so I’m happy about that."
"We had a stretch where we missed four free throws," Bethel coach Drew Johnson said. "It’s always important against a great team like Tabor to take advantage of your opportunities. We hit just enough shots. I’d have liked for us to hit a couple more. Tabor is really good. They played really hard. It was the kind of game I’d expect from these guys. I figured it would be a race to 50. They hit 50 first at 50-49. Then we took over from there. Both teams played hard."
Bethel was led by Abby Schmidt with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Kendall Michalski also scored 13 points.
The win was Bethel’s third straight.
Tabor, 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the KCAC, was led by Kasey Rice with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Bethel jumped out 8-3 midway in the first quarter. Schmidt hit 1 of 2 free throws with 7.7 seconds left in the period to put Bethel ahead 11-10.
Bethel took a 16-12 lead early in the second quarter, but gave up a 10-0 run. The Threshers came back to tie but a Rice jumper with six seconds remaining put Tabor back ahead at the half, 24-22.
Bethel was outscored 9-0 from 3-point range in the first half.
Bethel opened the second half on a 12-2 run aided by a pair of Michalski 3-pointers and three Schmidt layups. Bethel led by as many as six, missing chances to get farther ahead. Tabor ended the period with a three-point play and a layup off a steal to get within one, 42-41.
Tabor opened the fourth quarter with a layup. Bethel came back to lead by as many as four, again missing chances to extend it. A Rice 3-pointer put Tabor up by two with 5:42 in regulation. Bethel replied with a Schmidt 3-point play.
Bethel missed several chances down the stretch to get the lead to three or more. Hannah Gilmore hit two free throws with 1:53 in regulation to put Tabor up by one. Bearup put in a rebound with 1:16 remaining to put Bethel back in the lead.
Bethel got the ball back on a held ball with 45.7 seconds in regulation. Bethel missed a short jumper with 18.7 seconds to play and Tabor got the rebound. Tabor missed a 3-point attempt with 9.5 seconds to play. Bearup was fouled on the rebound and hit two free throws.
Tabor missed another late 3-point shot and Bethel secured the rebound and ran out the clock.
Bethel plays 6 p.m. Tuesday at Sterling College. The Warriors are 8-0, 4-0 in KCAC plat, stopping York 97-58 on Friday.
"It will be a very good test," Johnson said. "They are a very good team. We’ll need our best effort."
"This was a big road win," Bearup said. "This was our first big road win. Now we have to go to Sterling and KWU. We’re excited to play those two teams."