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Basketball unbeatable for second-straight weekend

| Staff Writer

For the second consecutive weekend, Washington University’s varsity basketball teams were untouchable against top conference opponents.  Both teams are now nationally ranked, the men at number 16 and the women sitting at 22.

Drake Kindsvater charges up to dunk on the way to a win against Rochester University (Photo by Elle Su | Student Life)

Men’s Basketball 

With five minutes left in the second half, the Bears were up by double digits against Emory University.  The two teams were head-to-head for the top conference spot, with both teams holding a 6-2 record. Only one team could leave Francis Fieldhouse in possession of the UAA lead. 

But with the seconds ticking down, Emory narrowed the score. A jumper put them at 60-54.  Another layup gave them another two. With thirty seconds left, the team held a one-point lead.  But the last-ditch effort from Emory would be wasted; in the last half-minute, strong defense in the paint by the Bears protected WashU’s advantage. Crucial plays on a jumper and a layup allowed them to stick it out for a victory. 

With the two wins against Rochester and Emory, the men’s basketball team remains hot on the season as they continue their four-game win streak, capped off by two home victories this past weekend. 

On Friday, the Bears played the Rochester Yellowjackets and dominated both halves. The Bear’s top scorers, sophomores Hayden Doyle (18 points) and Drake Kindsvater (16 points) led the Bears, Doyle shooting 8-15 from the field. After going down 1-0 in the first minute of play, the Bears would only trail for part of the game and continued to play a high-level defense that generated a lot of steals and fast-break opportunities. The second half saw them extend their lead further as the Yellowjackets had no answer for their fast-paced offense. The highlight was also the 33 defensive boards, almost double Rochester’s, which allowed the time of possession to favor WashU. After outsourcing them 38 to 29 in the first half, the second half also saw the Bears outscore them by 9, 32-41, and take an 18-point victory, 61-79. 

The Emory game is one that would become an instant classic. A massive team effort was needed for this victory that saw the Bears edge out the Eagles 60-59. 10 players would end up contributing to the point total in this game, led once more by Doyle and Kindsvater. Again, rebounds helped WashU on the way to victory; with 34 to Emory’s 27, many of these coming from second-chance points from offensive boards. The game stayed relatively close until the end of the second half, when the Bears would go on a 10-point run to go up 55-44. However, with four minutes left, Emory would have a streak of their own and bring the game within 1 point.  The Eagles ultimately lacked the ability to close for one final lead change.  

The Bears will play Brandeis University on Friday and New York University on Sunday in two away games.

Karisa Grandison passes the ball to a teammate in the team’s Friday night game against Rochester University. (Photo by Bri Nitsberg | Student Life)

Women’s Basketball

Before Friday, senior Naomi Jackson had only scored in the double digits twice this year, with eleven and twelve points against the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Brandeis University respectively.  She had only started one game this season in the team’s first matchup against Emory.  

But as the team faced off against Rochester University in New York, Jackson had a career day, with twenty points on the board.  She exceeded season highs in many offensive categories — in minutes, in 3-pointers made, in field goals.  In a close game, where the Bears trailed by double-digits in the second half, Jackson fueled the fourth quarter come-from-behind win, with two back-to-back three-pointers to switch the lead. 

Despite trailing Rochester in points in the paint and shooting 32% from outside the arc, the final score of 64-59 reflected the Bears’ ability to close out close games under pressure. Two of Rochester’s six losses, including the team’s only home loss of the season so far, come from WashU. 

During Sunday’s game, the Bears pulled out a sixteen point victory led by senior Maya Arnott, who had a season-high 26 points against the Eagles. Arnott, who has averaged 15.9 points per game,  went 6-6 in free throws and snagged 12 rebounds on Sunday. They once again had a dominant fourth quarter, where they outscored Emory 22-11.

 This weekend, the Bears have a challenge ahead of them, as they travel to Brandeis University and New York University in their weekend slate.  NYU is right behind them in conference rankings, with a 7-2 record, and it holds a higher national ranking.  If the Bears beat the number six-ranked Violets, the victory against a ranked opponent will likely push them up further on the top-25 list. The Bears have lost just one conference game, a ten point spread against Case Western Reserve University in mid-January.  They’ll have to wait one more week to confront Case, who they will play on Friday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. 

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