WU basketball teams continue season over Thanksgiving break
While many students went home for some time off and turkey last week, there was little rest for the Washington University basketball teams this Thanksgiving break as they continued their seasons through the holiday weekend.
Heading into the weekend on a two-game losing streak, the Wash. U. men’s basketball team looked to bounce back in the Nicholas Investments Thanksgiving Classic in Waukesha, Wis. They did just that. The Bears defeated their two opponents and improved to 3-2 on the season. Sophomore Jack Nolan had an exceptional weekend, posting an average of 22 points. For his efforts, along with his earlier performance against Illinois-Wesleyan University, Nolan was named UAA Athlete of the Week.
Against Carroll University on Saturday, the Bears lost a large second half lead but held on to win the game 71-69. Junior Matt Nester was electric in the first half, scoring 14 of his career-high 16 points before heading into the break. Twelve of those points came from beyond the arch. After junior Jonathan Arenas converted a putback late in the first half to push the Wash. U. lead to 13 points, Carroll responded with a 7-0 run to force a Wash. U. timeout. Wash. U. stormed out of that timeout, scoring the final seven points to end the half, 37-24.
The Bears shooting had been lights out in the first half. They shot 54.2 percent from the field and converted five of their nine three-pointers.
The second half seemed as though the Bears would coast to a victory. With 12:44 left, junior center Hank Hunter extended the Bears’ lead to 48-33. But the Pioneers came back. The latter part of the second half consisted of Caroll going on impressive runs to narrow Wash. U.’s lead and the Bears responding to put themselves a healthy distance away. With under 30 seconds remaining, Carroll cut the lead to four points, but Nolan quickly responded with his own break-away lay-up to effectively clinch the victory. The final score was 71-69. The Bear’s field goal percentage was the difference in the game. Both teams pulled down a similar number of rebounds (27-26), dished out a similar number of assists (9-11) and committed a similar number of turnovers (11-12). But the 55.1 percent to 47.1 percent advantage the Bears had was too much for Carroll to handle.
Wash. U. faced Carthage College on Sunday to conclude their weekend. Similar to their first game of the weekend, the Bears gained a lead in the first half. Carthage guard Preston Laketa was hot from behind the arch early, nailing three triples and propelling his team to a 14-20 lead over the Bears. But the Bears were equally on point from distance. Nolan and freshman Justin Hardy hit three-pointers that pulled the Bears back into the game and sparked a run that would put the Bears up 30-25. Nolan, Hardy, junior DeVaughn Rucker, Nester and freshman Charlie Jacob all converted at least one three-point shot for the Bears in the first half. Nester hit a triple at the buzzer to give the Bears a 47-37 lead entering the break.
Wash. U. went 8-15 from deep in the first half. Nolan ended the half with 17 points, while Nester and Hardy both added eight points.
Unlike the second half against Carroll, the Bears looked completely in control from the outset against Carthage. An 11-2 run from the Bears extended their lead to 19 points (62-43) with 13:02 left in the half. The lead would reach its pinnacle later in the half when a Hardy lay-up put the Bears up 79-53. They went on to win the game, 89-70.
Next up for Wash. U is the Annual Lopata Classic this weekend in Wash. U.’s Field House. The Bears will take on No. 25 Pomona-Pitzer Friday at 7 p.m.
It was a weekend of great highs and terrible lows for the Bears. After starting the weekend with a blowout win over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the Bears were defeated decisively by No. 12 Illinois Wesleyan University.
Both Rose-Hulman and Wash. U. started off slowly on Saturday. Neither team managed to score after nearly five minutes. The Fighting Engineers managed to score the first five points of the game, but Wash. U. found its footing after that. Junior Kristina Schmelter opened the second quarter by scoring the Bears’ first eight points and pushing their lead to 17-11. The Bears would end the half up nine points. Schmelter would finish the game with 14 points and nine rebounds, both game-high figures.
The second half was a more one-sided affair, as Wash. U. began to capitalize on Rose-Hulman’s mistakes and convert more of their shots. Senior
Stephanie Botkin drained a three to put Wash. U. up 33-22. The Red and Green went on a 15-0 run off that triple, which effectively put the game out of reach. The Bears won, 62-37.
The Wash. U. defense was consistently stifling. They forced 25 turnovers and held the Fighting Engineers to a dismal 23.3 percent from the field.
After dispatching Rose-Hulman, the Bears went on to the Midwest Challenge Championship game against the Titans of IWU. IWU was shooting extremely well throughout the game, finishing with a 52.5 percent field goal percentage. This was a sharp contrast to the Bears, who were held to 34.4 percent from the field in the first half. Along with IWU’s 2-16 advantage in points off of turnovers in the first half, the difference in shooting contributed to the 29-47 deficit the Bears found themselves in at the break.
The Titan’s lead hovered around 20 for the entire second half. While Wash. U.’s shooting improved, it wasn’t enough to narrow the gap between them and Illinois-Wesleyan. They would go on to lose the game, 63-81.
The Bears will have a weekend off before taking on Greenville Monday at 7 p.m.