Winning is “fun”-damental

Lesley McCullough

After countless summer workouts and endless weeks of practice, the Washington University women’s basketball team finally began its season two weeks ago… and it was definitely worth the wait. The Bears are 5-0 and ranked number one in the national Division III poll.

This year’s campaign began on the road when the Bears traveled to Rockford, Illinois for the Rockford College Tip-Off Tournament. On Friday, Nov. 22, WU defeated Wheaton College, 65-53. Freshman transfer-student Kelly Manning came off the bench to lead all scorers with 20 points. She also added seven rebounds in her 24 minutes of play.

Commenting on her first official WU game, Manning said, “I was really excited to have the opportunity to play and be a part of the WU team.”

Senior guard Laura Crowley and sophomore transfer Terri Lakowski added 10 points each. While the teams found themselves tied at halftime, 31-31, the Bears came out shooting well in the second half to secure their first victory of the season.

WU overwhelmed host Rockford College 80-50 on Saturday, Nov. 23 to win the tournament. In fact, 17 different WU players saw playing time during this game. WU led 45-15 at the half and never looked back. Four Bears finished scoring in double-digits. Sophomore Hallie Hutchens led the way with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while junior guard Lesley Hawley had 11 points, and seniors Danielle Battle and Crowley netted 10 points. Although the Bears came away with two solid wins, several areas of their game showed obvious need of improvement.

“Two things that coach emphasizes in practice are turnovers and free throws. Ideally, she would like us to have 15 turnovers or less and shoot 80 percent from the line,” said sophomore guard Leslie Berger.

Following their Thanksgiving feasts, the Bears returned to the comforts of their home court on Saturday, Nov. 30 when they hosted the 2nd Annual McWilliams Basketball Classic. WU crushed the visiting Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by a score of 94-38. Several key factors in the win for the Bears were 82 percent free throw shooting and only 10 turnovers.

“Our first tournament wasn’t that great. We have been playing much better recently,” said Hutchens.

“The goal is to keep improving and take one game at a time. Right now we are a good team, but with the talent of these players we have the potential to be a great team. Each game we get better,” said Berger.

On Sunday, Dec. 1, WU took on Carthage College in the WU Field House. The Bears scored over 90 points for the second consecutive game when they handily defeated Carthage 90-49. The Bears limited themselves to 16 turnovers and shot 70 percent from the free throw line.

For the third time this season, Hutchens led the way in scoring with 18 points. She also grabbed eight rebounds.

“We have a deep bench. On any given night, any one of us can have a great game-it is hard for the other team to guard every one of us all the time,” said Berger.

Because of their success to begin the season, the Bears find themselves alone atop the Division III rankings.

“We are more concerned with the competitiveness during daily practices than with any outside ranking,” Manning said.

“I haven’t been at WU when we weren’t ranked No. 1, so it’s the same pressures as last year. But I think this year we want it more since we didn’t go all the way last season,” said Hutchens.

This week, the Bears are gearing up for yet another tournament, the Washington University Division III Shootout, when they will host Illinois Wesleyan, DePauw and Illinois College.

“Now that scouting films are out on us, we have been refining certain aspects of our offense in order to hopefully catch teams off guard,” said Berger.

Leave a Reply