After finally breaking into the NAIA’s Top 25, the 24th-ranked Foresters closed out the regular season with an impressive 76-68 win on Senior Night over the Bethel College Pilots. Both teams were riding a five-game win streak entering the contest and both needed wins to solidify their position in the conference standings. The score went back and forth early until the Foresters finally put together an 8-1 run mid-way through the half to take a 22-14 lead. A jumper by Jessica Ramey at the 5:37 mark gave HU a 30-20 lead, but then the wheels fell off. Bethel changed to zone defense effectively disrupting the Foresters’ offensive rhythm. The momentum began to shift and the Pilots took advantage with 17 unanswered points. A Ramey jumper in the paint with 17 ticks left in the half finally ended the Foresters’ scoring drought, but two free throws by Abby Noll gave the Pilots a 39-32 lead at the break.
Natalie Young pushed the margin to nine with a jumper to start the second stanza, but the Forester defense finally began to show signs of life. By the 13:49 mark, HU had erased the deficit and knotted it at 46-46 on a free throw by Amy Wanemacher. After trading baskets, the Foresters began to get their running game back in gear and sprinted to a 10-point lead at 60-50 with 8:26 to play. A lay-up by Young stopped the bleeding momentarily, but an 8-0 run capped off by a Kendra Stahl trey gave HU its largest lead of the game at 68-52 with 6:15 on the clock. The Pilots picked up their defensively intensity and got back within eight on two free throws from Dana Roberts with 24 seconds left, but Betsey Bean and Ramey each knocked down two charity tosses to seal the win.
The Foresters had a trio of double digit scorers with Amy Berry leading the way with 24. Ramey contributed her third double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 assists, and Stahl finished with 10 points. Bethel’s Young lead all scorers’ in the game with 30 points. HU out-rebounded the conference rebounding leaders 37-31, including 16-10 on the offensive glass, and the Foresters committed just 13 turnovers to 18 for the Pilots. With the win, the women conclude their regular season with a 17-10 record and earn the second seed in the upcoming MCC tournament with their 12-4 record in conference play. The women will host Spring Arbor University in the first round of the conference tournament on Tuesday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m.