By Travis Rae, Communications and Sports Information Intern
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - (Box Score) No. 11 Bethel (Ind.) used a strong offensive first half to pull away and never looked back against Valley City State (N.D.) on Wednesday in the first round of the 2013 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship. Bethel won 79-63.
The Pilots rode a hot-shooting first half to take an 18-point lead at halftime. Bethel shot 53 percent first half and 52.6 percent for the game. Nine of 11 Pilots that played in the first half scored, led by Laura Johnson and Kristen Hicks, with seven points apiece.
Valley City State started a comeback with 11:30 left in the game as the Vikings were down 18 points. Three minutes later, Valley City State had trimmed the lead down to nine. However, the Vikings could not get any closer, as Bethel won, 79-63.
Laura Johnson led the Pilots with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Kristen Hicks followed with 15 points. Brittany Lehner led the Vikings with 16 points.
The Pilots advance to Friday's second-round game, where they will face the winner of the No. 8 Roosevelt (Ill.) and Friends (Kan.) on Friday at 3:30 p.m.