Women’s basketball advances to Sweet 16

Heman Duplechan | Staff Reporter

In a weekend of two must-win games, the Bears rose to the challenge to earn their place in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Washington University women’s basketball team picked up two big victories against University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 8 George Fox.

The Wash. U. women’s basketball team celebrates on the court after their win over No. 8-ranked George Fox University 86-78 Saturday night. The Bears will play University of Mary Hardin-Baylor at Thomas More College on March 8 in the Sweet 16 round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.Grace Bruton | Student Life

The Wash. U. women’s basketball team celebrates on the court after their win over No. 8-ranked George Fox University 86-78 Saturday night. The Bears will play University of Mary Hardin-Baylor at Thomas More College on March 8 in the Sweet 16 round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The Bears advanced to their 19th Sweet 16 in program history. They will face off against No. 12 University of Mary Hardin Baylor Friday, March 8 at 5 p.m., at Thomas More University, in Crestview Hills, Ky. The Sweet 16 matchup will be the first-ever meeting between Wash. U. and the Crusaders.

Wash. U. kicked off their tournament campaign Friday against UW-Whitewater. The game started off on the slower side for the Bears, as early shots did not seem to be falling. What got the Bears through this slow start was good defense.

“We started off playing really solid defense,” senior Caroline Ballard said. “We were able to get stops, and not let them get offensive rebounds.” Throughout the rest of the quarter, the Bears began to build a lead. “We started off a little slow on offense,” Ballard continued. “But we finally started moving the ball more.” The team started to get more open looks. By the end of the quarter, the Bears had built a 20-9 advantage.

Throughout the rest of the half, the Bears continued to score the ball well. The increase in ball movement helped the Wash. U. offense flow, as they were able to outscore Whitewater 27-17 in the quarter. The Bears took a comfortable 47-26 lead into halftime. Even with the onslaught of points in the first half, defense was the key to the big advantage.

“Our defense really carried the game in the first half,” senior Madeline Homoly said. “Even though we weren’t making shots, we knew they were going to start falling.”

Homoly also helped Wash. U. gain an advantage in rebounding, as the Bears out-rebounded Whitewater 45-36 on the night. This lead in rebounding contributed to their edge in second-chance points, 16-12.

Whitewater did battle back in the second half, outscoring the Bears 18-13 for the third quarter. “We didn’t come out of the half ready, like we should have,” head coach Randi Henderson stated. Henderson went on to explain how the team “went away” from what had previously worked in the first half, putting the team in a position to feel more “panicked and rushed.”

But the slight step back was not enough to allow the Warhawks back in the game. In the end, the Bears came out with a 72-56 win, earning their spot in the next round. Ballard and Homoly would both lead the team in scoring with 19 points, as Homoly also chalked up a double-double, pulling down 11 rebounds.

Madeline Homoly shoots a two-pointer against George Fox UniversityGrace Bruton | Student Life

Madeline Homoly shoots a two-pointer against George Fox University

The Bears continued their weekend of play on Saturday against George Fox. In a hard-fought game between two very good teams, the Bears had to gut out a hard-earned victory. Coach Henderson described George Fox as a “well-coached and physical” team. The game began with Wash. U. pulling out to an early lead in the first quarter. For the rest of the half, the game remained close. Both teams showed the ability to score consistently, and George Fox’s full-court press caused the Bears to make some mistakes on the offensive end. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was still a tight one. George Fox outscored the Bears 14-9 with less than four minutes left in the fourth. The Bears hunkered down on the defensive end to try and hold on to the win.

“In the fourth quarter, when it was really tight, instead of us thinking and focusing on offense, we were really locked in defensively,” Henderson said.
The Bears were able to come through when it counted. This defensive focus, along with key baskets from Homoly, helped the Bears to walk away with an 86-78 win, propelling them to the Sweet 16 for the 19th time in school history.

Homoly had another big game, scoring 23 points and pulling down another 11 rebounds. Senior Becca Clark-Callender also had another great game distributing the ball, dishing seven assists on the night.

After the game, Callender explained how much tournament wins mean for the seniors. She stated that she and the rest of the seniors are “very aware” that their careers as Wash. U. players are winding down. Callender went on to praise her teammates for their great play thus far in the tournament: “This [type of play] is exactly what I’d expect out of my teammates,” Clark stated. “It’s what we’ve been training for almost four years to be able to do.”

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