Lady Pilots clinch NAIA bid, advance to MCC finals

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The Lady Pilots advanced past the MCC Tournament semifinals with a 60-47 win over the Huntington Foresters. Despite splitting with the Lady Foresters in the regular season, there was no question in the second round of the tourney as Bethel claimed a convincing triumph.
Laura Johnson gets a step on a Forester defender as she keeps her eyes on finishing at the basket. Johnson led all scorers with 19 points on the evening. (photo by Jeff Welsh)
The Lady Pilots have been inconsistent in the early minutes of games this season; however, it was the first half where they executed efficiently and pulled away from their opponents. Laura Johnson hit her first two three point shots of the game, which gave Bethel a lead that would not be surrendered. In addition, there defense was relentless, forcing 12 turnovers by halftime. As a result, the Lady Pilots led 36-22 at the break. The Lady Foresters entered the second half determined to chip away at the 14 point deficit; nevertheless, the closest they would come was five points. Laura Johnson led all scorers with 19 points, while Sarah Clark contributed 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. Johnson and Ashlee Ort each led the defensive charge as they each grabbed four steals. With this win, the Lady Pilots will receive an automatic bid into the NAIA Division II Women’s National Championship Tournament held in Sioux City, Iowa. In addition, they will travel to Indiana Wesleyan on Monday, Feb. 27 to take on the number one ranked Lady Wildcats. Indiana Wesleyan claimed both match-ups in the regular season, but the two-seeded Lady Pilots will rely on their sharpshooting to pull off the upset.
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