The Wildcats opened a pair of pre-winter break games against Bethany College on Friday afternoon in the Wildcat Center. The two teams met earlier this year in Bethany where the Swedes took a 78-57 win in JWU's season opener.
From the start it looked to be a well-contested game as both teams battled for every possession as JWU held a 12-11 lead with 14:34 in the opening half. The Swedes picked up a quick five points to hold a 17-12 lead but the 'Cats rallied to tie the contest at 17. The teams traded buckets before Bethany again went up five only to see Johnson & Wales rally to even the score. Neither team was able to build much more then a five point lead with Johnson & Wales holding their largest lead of 43-38 with 1:37 left to play. Bethany College closed out the period on a 7-0 run to take the 45-43 lead into the break.
The Swedes kept their momentum as the second half got underway jumping out to a 53-43 lead over the first three minutes. They maintained their near double-digit lead through the early part of the half before Johnson & Wales started to chip away and got as close as 58-61 with 11:44 left to play. JWU continued to trail but were making inroads before Amanda Weber (Colorado Springs, Colo.) put Johnson & Wales ahead 75-74 with 5:56 left to play. The Wildcat's offense begin to click as they maintained their lead keeping it a 3 possession game through the final minutes.
The Swedes tried to rally but came up short as Johnson & Wales took the 95-86 victory to even the season series. Kourtney Shirley (Winslow, Ariz.) matched a game high 26 points. Tameka Manning (Denver, Colo.) had 20 points off the bench for Johnson & Wales. Bailey Ford (Pueblo, Colo.) and Kristen Ward (Thornton, Colo.) each had 8 rebounds for JWU. Alex Brammer led the Swedes with 26 points and Ashley Carey had 21 points and 9 boards off the bench for Bethany College.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 12:00 PM at the Wildcat Center before taking a much needed mid-season break.