Lady Bears dominate the McWilliams Classic

| Senior Sports Editor
Junior Alex Hoover goes for the basket in Sunday’s McWilliams Classic championship game against Rhodes College. Hoover contributed 17 points to the Bears’ 82-62 victory, and was named the McWilliams Classic Most Valuable Player. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Junior Alex Hoover goes for the basket in Sunday’s McWilliams Classic championship game against Rhodes College. Hoover contributed 17 points to the Bears’ 82-62 victory, and was named the McWilliams Classic Most Valuable Player. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

The Washington University women’s basketball team controlled almost every minute of the  McWilliams Classic over the weekend, with a 82-62 victory in the championship game against Rhodes College and a 75-37 rout over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Wash. U. won its third McWilliams Classic in a row and the seventh in program history.

The Lady Bears took control from the tip-off and leaped to a 14-2 lead in the first 4 minutes of play against Rhodes College. The Lynx steadily chipped at the lead and made the game a one-basket possession at the 4:26 mark; the Bears were always a step ahead and never looked back.

Led by juniors Alex Hoover and Kelsey Robb, the Red and Green closed out the half on a 16-7 sprint. Hoover, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Robb scored all the Wash. U. points in the large run as the Bears took a 44-33 lead into the locker room.

“After our start with Illinois Wesleyan, we were hungry for that win,” Hoover said. “We wanted to take care of business at home and get back in the groove of things.”

The Red and Green continued their romp, opening the second half with 11 straight points as the Lynx were held scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the second half. All the players on the team saw action as four players scored in double digits. Hoover led Wash. U. with 17 points, senior co-captain Janice Evans had 13, classmate co-captain Zoë Unruh scored 12, and Robb had 10.

Despite their success, the team noted there was room for improvement. “A quick start in the second half will be critical and really taking care of the ball,” graduate student co-captain Jaimie McFarlin said. “We have to limit our unforced turnovers.”

Unruh and McFarlin were also named to the all-tournament team after both recorded eight rebounds against Rhodes and numerous points in both games. It was McFarlin’s third time on the McWilliams Classic All-Tournament squad.

“With a team like we have, it must be hard to pick an all-tournament team, because you know you’ve got so many people scoring,” Unruh said. “Whatever I did is just as comparable to the next person, but it is an honor to be on the team.”

In Saturday’s semifinal, the Lady Bears routed Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 75-37 of the four-team invitational tournament. Defense played a key role as the Bears offense pulled away to a 48-18 lead by the end of the first half. The Red and Green also set a single-game record with 22 takeaways and had a 32-2 advantage in points off turnovers versus the Engineers.

Wash. U. continued their efforts in the second half, never letting Rose-Hulman get within striking distance. Unruh and McFarlin had 12 points each.

Sophomore Bethany Morrison tied the McWilliams Classic record held by Wash. U. alum Shanna-Lei Dacanay with 14 assists.

“You can see she’s going to be a great addition to the program,” McFarlin said. “She fits in so well.”

The Bears travel to Chicago on Saturday for a game against Elmhurst College at 5 p.m. before a game versus Fontbonne University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

“We just need to be ready to play and get our game faces on,” Unruh said.