Surging Bears start conference play strong

| Sports Reporter
Senior Zoë Unruh, seen here in a Nov. 29 game against Rhodes College, led the Lady Bears to a 67-57 victory against Brandeis University on Friday. With seven wins over winter break, the team improved to 13-1 on the season and extended its win streak to 11. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Senior Zoë Unruh, seen here in a Nov. 29 game against Rhodes College, led the Lady Bears to a 67-57 victory against Brandeis University on Friday. With seven wins over winter break, the team improved to 13-1 on the season and extended its win streak to 11. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

After a strong showing in its non-conference play, the No. 3 Washington University women’s basketball team began University Athletic Association play on the right note, taking out its first three opponents to run its season record to 13-1.

The Bears opened UAA play on Jan. 9 with a strangling 63-34 win against the University of Chicago, and followed up the next weekend with a 67-57 win against Brandeis University on Jan. 15 and a 70-50 win against New York University on Jan. 17.

The wins added to a streak that currently stands at 11 straight for the team.

“Having a good start in UAA is crucial, so it was really big that we took these three games,” senior Zoë Unruh said.

In the first game, the Bears’ defense locked down Chicago, forcing 29 turnovers and holding the visiting Maroons to a 22-percent field goal percentage. Graduate student Jaimie McFarlin led the way, recording eight rebounds, five blocks and three steals in addition to her 14 points.

Against Brandeis, five different players scored in double figures for the Bears, who jumped ahead 8-0 to start the game and never looked back. Unruh was the leading scorer with 15 points, while McFarlin added 13 and senior Janice Evans pitched in 12.

Wash. U. relied on another strong defensive effort against NYU. Midway through the first half, the Violets were held to a scoreless seven-minute stretch, helping the Bears jump ahead en route to another win in their final contest of the weekend.

“However you start, you want to be playing to your potential,” head coach Nancy Fahey said. “I think we all knew we should have a good start. We were trying to live up to some expectations, and that led to the kind of play we’ve been producing lately.

The Bears took advantage of 24 offensive rebounds, leading to 23 second-chance points. McFarlin’s double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds, was a key part of the team’s victory.

“Considering that NYU is one of the best rebounding teams in the UAA, it’s very helpful,” Evans said. “We knew we needed to beat them on the boards, and we did.”

The Bears will take their show on the road for the next four games. They face Case Western Reserve University on Friday, Jan. 22, in Cleveland, and Carnegie Mellon University on Sunday, Jan. 24, in Pittsburgh.

“We need to go on the road. It’s time,” Fahey said. “We need to experience a hostile environment. We need to prove that we can do it in different venues.”