NAPLES, Fla. – A strong defense effort highlighted the Bethel University women's basketball team's 78-67 victory over Vassar College Sunday afternoon at the Naples Shootout. The Royals collected a program-record 29 steals forcing the Brewers to turn it over 34 times. Senior guard Haylee Barker had a program single-game record 11 steals.
The nationally ranked Royals – who are No. 25 in the D3hoops.com poll and No. 20 in the WBCA – improved on their best start moving to 9-0. BU closes out its trip to the Sunshine State Monday evening against Salisbury University at 5:30 p.m. CDT.
Junior forward Makenna Pearson had a career-high day from behind the arc where she hit six 3-pointers while matching a career-high 24 points. Barker finished with a season-high 16 points while Taite Anderson tallied 12 points. Defensively, junior guard Bella Williams added eight steals.
In a fast paced first half, Vassar started out strong with a 7-0 run. Pearson dialed in from long distance putting Bethel on the board. From there the defense ramped up forcing six turnovers while BU responded with a 10-0 run to take its first lead.
A layup in transition from Barker gave Bethel its largest lead of the half at 21-15 with 8:36 to go in the second. An 8-1 run for the Brewers tied things up before they scored the half's final nine points to lead 36-31 at the break.
Bethel got off to a slow start in the second half put picked up the momentum with a fast break layup from Emma Schultz. Despite sending Vassar to the line for the final 7:22 of the third, BU chipped away at a 10-point deficit with a pair of 3-pointers from Pearson. A 19-6 run through the final five minutes gave Bethel a 57-51 lead heading into the final quarter.
The defense stayed consistent in the fourth forcing nine turnovers with seven steals. Bethel pushed the lead to double digits while free throws from Kat Brown-Erdal gave the Royals their largest advantage at 73-61.
Story by Austin Lagesse, Bethel University Assistant Sports Information Director