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Bethel’s Nelson Named NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year

Courtesy Bethel SID
Posted 3/31/20

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ­— Coach Chris Nelson, in his 14th season, was named the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year after finishing the season at 29-4 (.879). The Wildcats …

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Bethel’s Nelson Named NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. ­— Coach Chris Nelson, in his 14th season, was named the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year after finishing the season at 29-4 (.879). The Wildcats finished the season qualifying for the 2020 championship for the 11th time and were ranked at No. 6 in the final Coaches’ Top 25. Coach Nelson led his team to the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) tournament championship with a 65-59 win over Martin Methodist. Bethel also won the SSAC regular season title with a 15-1 mark. Bethel finished the season with a 21 game winning streak which is the second longest in program history. The Lady Cats would have been making their eighth straight appearance in the national tournament.

Bethel was 15-0 at home on the year. Under Nelson’s guidance the Lady Cats are 122-15 all-time in Crisp Arena and 60-4 versus league opponents in the building. Bethel completed play in the SSAC at 112-18.

Nelson captured his 300th career win on January 2 when the Lady Wildcats beat Stillman College 76-38. He finished the season with a 317-142 career mark.

Bethel finished third in the nation in field goal defense at 33 percent. Bethel was third in the nation in scoring defense at 53.9. The Cats were 19-1 when holding opponents to 54 points or less.

Nelson had three players named to the NAIA All-American teams this season. Tyasia Willis was named to the 2nd team while Morgan Martin and Tasia Jones were named to the honorable mention squad.

Coach Nelson commented, “I am very thankful, humbled and blessed. This year we were very fortunate to not only be surrounded with great players but also great people. Our coaching staff is fully committed every day and does a wonderful job of not only X’s and O’s of the game but building and having great relationships with our players and that in itself is what helps make up our culture. I have a wonderful coaching staff. Meagan (Price) and Cayla (Sheets) both played point guard in our program and know what we are trying to accomplish on and off the court. Jennifer (Nelson) has won on every level she has participated in and am blessed she is able to share her knowledge with our team. Our training staff is top notch. Our strength and conditioning this season with Ray Watkins helped prepare our minds and bodies for the longevity of a basketball season. Trainer Ethan Perry was new to our team this season but stepped in and instantly became our MVP and made sure our girls were taking care of their bodies and were ready to go on a daily basis.” Nelson concluded, “We have a great following and women’s basketball really means something to our fans here. We are very thankful for the stage Bethel allows us to compete on.

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