Women’s Basketball: Bears pull out finale with 2nd-half surge

| Sports Reporter

Jaimie McFarlin dribbles down the court at a game on February 28, 2010 against Case Western. (Paul Goedeke | Student Life)

In the final game of the regular season for the Washington University women’s basketball team, the Bears put forth an effort that they can only hope is reflective of things to come as they reach the NCAA Tournament.

Graduate student Jaimie McFarlin and junior Alex Hoover both matched their season highs in points, and a strong second-half attack from Wash. U. put away the University of Chicago on Saturday, 71-60. With the victory, the Bears clinched the University Athletic Association (UAA) title outright and an automatic NCAA bid. This is the 19th UAA title for the Lady Bears.

Behind McFarlin’s double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with 17 points from Hoover, the Bears finished the regular season on an eight-game win streak, with a mark of 23-2 overall and 13-1 in conference.

The Bears’ dominance in the UAA, however, was an afterthought for most of the first half of the game, as the Maroons held a lead for the majority of the early going. When the Bears were down 19-10—their largest deficit of the game—almost midway through the first half, head coach Nancy Fahey called a time-out.

“We didn’t run our defensive system well [in the first half],” McFarlin said. “We just completely relaxed defensively. Also, our shots just weren’t falling. We had a lot of open looks and they just didn’t go in.”

Out of the huddle from that timeout, junior Kathryn Berger hit a 3-pointer, and slowly, the Bears fought to a 23-23 tie with 7:34 left in the half. The teams traded the lead twice more before heading to the locker rooms at a 33-33 tie at the half.

After giving up the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, McFarlin took charge with a run where she blocked a shot and scored seven of the Bears’ points in a row, giving the Red and Green a lead they would never relinquish.

“I had hit some good shots in the first half and I was going to keep shooting until I missed,” McFarlin said. “We needed someone to step up and make some big shots and mine just went in.”

With McFarlin’s 10 points in the first seven minutes of the half setting the tone, the Bears controlled the game the rest of the way, as Chicago fought down the stretch but never got any closer than five points.

McFarlin also scored the 1,000th point of her Wash. U. career in the second half.

“I think it goes to show how many great players we have. You can’t score 1,000 with this program unless you have some great teammates to get you some open looks,” McFarlin said. “It’s been a heck of a five years.”

Junior Kelsey Robb agreed. “This such an amazing accomplishment [considering] our team is very big on sharing the ball and passing around to get an open shot,” Robb said.

Wash. U. will learn who they will face in the NCAA tournament at 11:30 a.m. in the DUC Fun Room.