Women’s basketball falls in McWilliams Classic
Bears defeat Oglethorpe in semifinals, lose to Austin 85-77 in finals
The Washington University women’s basketball team did not play poorly Saturday night. They shot a perfectly respectable 41.5 percent from the floor, had three players score double-digit points and scored two more points than their season average of 75.
None of this, however, was enough to push the Bears past Austin College, who were propelled by 30 points and 15 rebounds from their star forward Bryce Frank as the visiting Kangaroos upset the No. 13 Bears 85-77 in the final of the McWilliams Classic at the Wash. U. Field House.
The loss was especially disappointing for Wash. U., considering the day before they had put on their best offensive performance of the season, racking up 90 points for the first time this year in the semifinal against Oglethorpe University.
Oglethorpe came off the blocks fastest, jumping out to an early 8-2 lead. The Wash. U. offense, however, was lights out in the first quarter, shooting 68.8 percent in the period, and this efficiency soon had them in the driver’s seat.
After the hot start from Oglethorpe, the Bears went on a 24-8 run over the next five minutes. Junior Caroline Ballard came off the bench during this stretch and made an immediate impact, canning back-to-back 3-pointers to put Wash. U. up four.
A combination of juniors Stephanie Botkin and Rachael Sondag did much of the early damage, scoring six and eight points respectively.
Oglethorpe kept things close as the first quarter ended, with a late 5-0 run bringing the score to 29-26 for Wash. U. The Bears, however, would pull away in the second, in which they outscored the Stormy Petrels 22-14. Junior Madeline Homoly had eight points in the quarter, to bring her first half total to 14.
Homoly showed off some of her offensive range in the quarter, hitting midrange jumpers and finishing inside with strong lay-ins at the basket. All four of Homoly’s field goals in the quarter were assisted, part of a larger trend of Wash. U.’s effective ball movement in the game.
The Bears racked up 19 assists in the first half, and 27 in the entire game. Junior Becca Clark-Callender and senior Natalie Orr were instrumental in conducting the game from the backcourt, and both guards finished with eight assists.
Wash. U. went into the half with a 51-40 lead, and only stretched it in the third quarter. Homoly scored another nine points in the quarter, and Sondag added nine of her own, going three-for-three from behind the arc. The Bears led 77-56 after three quarters, and despite a brief Oglethorpe rally, held on for a comfortable 90-79 final score.
The Bears had to cope with some strong performances from Oglethorpe—most notably 19 points and 10 rebounds from Savannah LeGate —but nothing compare to what they were in for Saturday night.
Austin’s 6-foot-2 junior forward Bryce Frank was held quiet in the first quarter. She missed all four of her shots, turned the ball over once and committed two fouls in her five minutes on the floor.
In fact, it was all smooth sailing for the Bears early on. Homoly scored four, Orr scored five and Clark-Callender beat the first quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to put Wash. U. up 17-7.
In the second quarter, Frank managed to stay out of foul trouble and stayed on the floor for every minute of the period. The Kangaroos made her the focal point of their offense as they found their way back into the game. Frank took 10 of Austin’s 20 shots of the quarter, and made seven of them. By the time the second quarter ended, Frank had 15 points and six rebounds, and Wash. U.’s double digit lead was down to two, 33-31.
It was the middle two quarters that really made the difference for Austin, as they outscored Wash. U. 32-17 in the period. Frank scored another 13, as the Bears went cold from the field, only making seven shots in the quarter. All of a sudden, Wash. U. was down, 63-50.
The Bears finally managed to quiet Frank down in the fourth quarter by concentrating their defense on her catches inside, but in doing so they left space for the Kangaroo’s outside shooters. Austin hit three 3-pointers in the quarter, after making only five in the rest of the game.
Orr led a late Bears comeback bid, scoring nine of her 17 points in the final frame, but it was too little too late, and Wash. U. lost, 85-77.
Wash. U. now sits at 4-2, and plays mostly local rivals—Greenville University, Millikin University and Fontbonne University—until winter vacation. The Bears seem to have worked out some early offensive issues, topping 75 points in each of their last four games after averaging 59 in their first two, but have also allowed 78 points on average over that stretch.
However the Bears might be adjusting to their new season, they will not have too much more time to experiment: The conference schedule opens just over a month from today against No. 22 University of Chicago.