Benedictine Moves Past Bethel, 81-74
The Ravens (28-5) are now 1-0 in the NAIA Division I Championships, making their first appearance in the event since the Heart of America Athletic Conference joined Division I in 2008-09. Previously, they made five appearances in the NAIA DII Championships. Benedictine joins Faulkner (Ala.) as the only first-year teams to advance to Friday's second round.
Benedictine went 11-deep on its bench, spreading out its offense among 10 players, including five with nine or more points. Senior post player Liz Stinson led the Ravens with 17 points, all from the floor and with only two coming off a rebound. Kelsey Anselmi followed with 15 points and eight assists, while Justice Payne had 12. The Ravens also received nine points from Erin Murphy and Jayde Reid.
Bethel scored the first three points of the game and three times in the first seven minutes, but the night cap belonged to the team from Atchison, Kan.
Benedictine shot 48.3 percent in the first half, including 60 percent from behind the arc, to take a 42-32 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Bethel managed to work the margin to five on three separate occasions after opening the half on a 7-2 run, but Benedictine responded with a 9-0 run to go up by 14 points, 58-44, with 13 minutes left. The lead dipped into single figures only once over the next nine minutes and didn't fall below eight points until Bethel's Lorna Hudson hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to play.
The Ravens collected 23 assists in the game, the most of any team in the first round of the tournament, one more than Lubbock Christian University's 22 earlier in the day.
Bethel was led in scoring with four players in double figures, including two double-doubles. Junior center Perica Glenn equaled her career high in both scoring and rebounds with 21 points and 14 boards. Jasmine Taylor also had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Following Glenn's scoring lead was Alisha Gentry with 16 points and Katie VanDyke had 11.
Bethel finishes its season with a 21-11 record.
Benedictine will meet Mid-South Conference champion Cumberland University (Tenn.) in the final game of the second round Friday at 9:45 p.m. EDT.