The Bethel women’s basketball team has struggled by their standards recently since opening up the new year. While the Pilots have played all of their games during this stretch against a tough MCC schedule, they have only managed to go 3-4 over this period. This stretch has forced them out of the NAIA Top 25 Rankings for the first time all season. Three of the four losses were by margins of ten points or less, and one of those was in overtime against the University of St. Francis. The most recent of these losses came Wednesday night at Indiana Wesleyan University. The Pilots suffered a six-point defeat to the number seven ranked Wildcats by a score of 53-47. The Pilots played the Wildcats close all game but could never seem to get over the hump and take control of the game. Bethel was down five at the break by a score of 26-21. The Pilots fought hard in the second half but couldn’t grasp the lead. The St. Francis loss was also a tough one to swallow because of how Bethel lost. The Pilots trailed by 16 points early in the game but managed to fight back and even grab a halftime lead. Bethel led by six at the break by a score of 47-41. The Pilots had a three-point lead with 13 seconds left. St. Francis then hit a huge three pointer that sent the game into overtime. Bethel went on to lose the game in overtime by a score of 88-83. During this stretch, the Pilots have had a few nice victories including a pair of home wins over Taylor University and Grace College. Bethel beat a then ranked Taylor team by ten points and then defeated Grace by eight. Boisse led all Pilots in scoring in the Taylor game as she ended with 17 points, and Mandy Yoder led all scorers in the Grace game with 22. Although Bethel has struggled lately, there are some things to look forward to in the closing stretch of games. Head Coach Jody Martinez discussed what the Pilots need to improve upon moving forward. “The girls are doing the best they can to be competitive,” Martinez said. “We need to improve on rebounding and limiting second chance opportunities. It’s been a tough year due to injuries, but we just need to stay positive and keep working hard.” Of the six remaining regular season games left on the schedule, four of the six are home games. This should bode well for the Pilots because Bethel currently has a 6-2 record at home this season. Bethel returns to action at home on Saturday, January 30 to take on the Goshen College Maple Leafs at 1 p.m.