PULASKI, Tenn. – The No. 14 Bethel Lady Wildcats and the 25th ranked Martin Methodist Lady RedHawks played four games in one Thursday night in Pulaski.
After jumping out to an 11-0 lead the Lady Wildcats led 11-4 at the end of the first quarter. MMC outscored the Lady Cats 21-9 in the second quarter and led at halftime 25-20. Martin Methodist scored the first four points of the third quarter and led 29-20 but the Lady Wildcats stormed back and scored 12 unanswered points to grab a 32-29 lead. They would never trail again. Bethel led 42-36 at the end of three. The teams were fairly even in the fourth quarter with MMC holding a slight advantage at 14-12. In the end it would be the Lady Wildcats winning 54-50.
The Lady Wildcats moved to 20 -7 overall and 16 -1 in the Southern States Athletic Conference. They have won ten straight games. Their last loss was to Martin Methodist back on January 12 in Crisp Arena. It was the only loss ever in the building to an SSAC opponent. The RedHawks are 20-7 and 14-3. Bethel has won 50 of their last 53 SSAC regular season contests.
No Bethel player had more than four points in the first half but freshman Morgan Martin exploded for 11 tallies in the third. Madison Steppee came off the Bethel bench and provided a spark in the quarter as well. Shamon Pearson provided the offense in the fourth stanza with eight big points. After a late miss bethel's Cayla Sheets grabbed the biggest rebound of the game with seconds left. Brandi Goodman hit a big free throw with 1.6 seconds left to make it a two possession game. Mariah McKenty hauled down a team high 11 rebounds.
Bethel had a 49-36 rebound margin. The Lady Wildcats are 18-1 when they out rebound their opponents. They hit 20-of-60 shots for 33 percent. They knocked down seven three-pointers with Martin hitting 4-of-5 attempts from outside. She finished the game with 15 points. Pearson led Bethel with 17 points.
MMC was 20-of-65 from the floor at 30 percent. Tearirra Luckett led the Hawks with a game high 18 points. Kyoko Wade had 14 rebounds and became the all-time leading rebounder in MMC history.
Coach Chris Nelson said everyone had a part in the victory. "This was a total team effort in a game where we needed everyone and where we had to grind it out. We got off to a great start on the road but we knew they would keep fighting and come back. Cayla did a great job dictating the tempo in the second half after Martin Methodist got to rolling in the second quarter. Mariah did another superb job on the defensive end and grabbed some big boards throughout the game. Madison Steppee was huge for us tonight off the bench and gave us the spark our team needed and we made runs with her in the game tonight. Morgan and Shamon carried us offensively tonight and stepped up the way our team needed them to tonight."
The Lady Wildcats meet Loyola at 2 p.m. Saturday in New Orleans.
The game will be aired on WEIO, 100.9 and at www.thefarmradio.com. The Countdown to Tip-off Show begins at 1:30 p.m. Dave McCulley and Zach O'Kelley will call the action.
Fans can also view the game at: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/loyno/
The battle in New Orleans featuring the Lady Wildcats and the Wolf Pack will also be the NAIA Network Division I Women's Basketball Game of the Week, presented by Stretch Internet.