Women’s basketball continues dominance with strong weekend performance
The Bears improved to 15-1 overall and 5-0 in the UAA, with their lone loss on the road against No. 1-ranked DePauw University. The team’s two road wins pushed the Bears’ win streak to 11 games, the longest since their 14 straight victories to end the 2009-10 season, when the Bears won the national championship. Emory University’s pair of losses this weekend gave the Bears sole possession of first place in the conference.
Friday’s game against Case Western was an anticlimactic affair. A layup three minutes into the game by senior forward Jordan Rettig, who finished with eight points and led the team with eight rebounds, made the score 6-5 and gave the Bears a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
Junior forward Melissa Gilkey led the team with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field, and junior guard Alyssa Johanson contributed 13 points and six rebounds off the bench. The Bears finished the game shooting 43.8 percent from the field.
With a 31-17 margin at halftime, it was apparent that the Red and Green had a stifling defensive game plan for Case Western. Wash. U. held the Spartans to just 21.9 percent shooting in the first half, and the Spartans finished the game with a meager 25.8 percentage.
“Our defense is such a great advantage, and we know we have such a great strength there,” Gilkey said. “Our bench players help give us the energy to go for the full 40 minutes.”
Despite losing three of its last four games, Carnegie Mellon kept the score close throughout the first half as the Bears led by just two points, 29-27, at halftime. The Bears had very similar first-half statistics compared to Carnegie Mellon in field goal percentage (32.4 to 33.3), three-point percentage (3-12 to 2-12), assist-to-turnover ratio (5:3 to 7:6) and total rebounds (24 to 22).
“We had a little spell where shots weren’t falling for us, but we got back to rebounding and playing defense, and that’s what kept us in it,” Gilkey said.
In the second half, both offenses seemed to loosen up and hit their shots as Johanson scored 13 of her team-leading 19 points, tying her career high, and the Bears shot 51.4 percent to the Tartans’ 55.6 percent.
“When they play so much zone against our team, it’s very important to play inside and out and to create that dribble penetration. When [Johanson] is driving, it also creates a lot of opportunities on the outside for others,” Gilkey said.
Gilkey finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, and Rettig had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jordan Thompson added 15 points, 11 of which came in the first half.
Wash. U.’s lead increased in the second half due to an uptick in defensive intensity, leading to the Bears forcing nine Tartan turnovers, as well as Johanson’s scoring off the bench, which has been a huge part of the Bears’ success so far this season. With 10.8 points per game as a reserve, Johanson is the team’s second-leading scorer.
The team’s deep bench “is one of our biggest strengths,” Gilkey said. “If one of our players gets into foul trouble or is having an off night, we have someone who can come off the bench to make up for that.”