Late comeback powers women’s basketball to overtime win

| Senior Sports Editor

The Washington University women’s basketball team stormed back from a late nine-point deficit on Friday night, beating Rhodes College 86-80 in overtime.

The Bears went on a 10-1 run to close out the fourth quarter, stunning the Lynx before dominating in overtime to improve to 2-1 on the season.

“We’re real young so we’re still figuring a lot of stuff out, but we definitely showed some toughness in the fourth quarter and obviously in overtime,” head coach Randi Henderson said. “I thought the team did a really good job of battling through a lot of adversity.”

The game had been back-and-forth through the first three quarters, each team leading for significant periods of time. Until Rhodes made a free throw with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 70-61, neither team had pulled away to more than an eight-point lead.

That free throw came after referees called Henderson for a technical foul when she protested a call against sophomore Isabelle Hren. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten a [technical foul], but it was pretty frustrating,” Henderson said. “I said to my assistant coaches that if we hadn’t gotten that [technical foul], we would have won in regulation.”

The technical foul seemed to light a fire under the Bears. Wash. U. clawed back while holding the Lynx to just one point in the game’s last three minutes. Sophomore Samantha Weaver got the rally going with 2:39 to play when she made a layup despite being fouled. She made the ensuing free throw, narrowing Rhodes’ lead to six points, 70-64.

Then, after each team called a 30-second timeout, Hren blocked a Lynx jump shot as the shot clock expired. Weaver grabbed the rebound and sent a pass far upcourt to freshman Molly Gannon, who then drained a three-pointer to make it a one-possession game.

“[Gannon] hit a transition three that put a little spark in us,” Henderson said. “That three really got the team to believe that they had a shot.”

Weaver carried the Bears as time waned. She had two more layups in the final 25 seconds of regulation, her last score sending the game to overtime. Gannon lobbed an inbounds pass to senior Kristina Schmelter at the top of the arc before Schmelter found Weaver cutting into the paint. With three seconds to play, Weaver reversed direction to escape her defender and then laid the ball off the backboard and into the net, tying the game at 71. She was 3-4 from the field in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points.

Schmelter said that the comeback came from the Bears taking the game into their own hands. “We just really tried to focus on what we could control, whether that be fewer turnovers, getting stops on defense, moving the ball or playing really good team offense,” she said. “I think when we were able to stay focused on those things, it just kept us motivated to keep going and fight all the way to the end to get that comeback.”

Once in overtime, freshman Sammi Matoush took advantage of Rhodes’ three fouls against her, converting five of her six free throws and scoring seven points in the five-minute period. The Bears outscored the Lynx, 15-9, and took home the victory.

“I think we really just fought through the whole game,” Schmelter said. “It’s so easy when you get down to either give up or start making silly mistakes or get in your head, and I think we stuck together and fought through the other team’s runs. That helped us get into overtime and pull out the win.”

Matoush had 14 points overall, a career high. Weaver and Schmelter each had four points in overtime, finishing the game with 15 and 16, respectively, to lead the Bears.

The Bears had six players reach double-digit point totals. Hren had a double-double, scoring 12 points and securing 10 rebounds, while Gannon had four three-pointers and collected 12 points on the day as well, a career high. Freshman Naomi Jackson had 11 points off the bench, including three three-pointers. “It’s a fun way to play,” Henderson said. “It’s a much more enjoyable and tougher-to-guard way to play if you’ve got five to seven people who can score in double figures.”

Wash. U. now turns its focus to No. 10 DePauw University, whom the Bears will host on Saturday at 4 p.m. “We have a really tough weekend ahead,” Henderson said. “I think for us right now, as freshman-heavy and pretty young and inexperienced, we’re just still working on that consistency and effort every day that it’s going to take to play against the best in the country.”

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