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Women’s basketball picks up key conference wins against Carnegie Mellon and Case Western

| Staff Writer

Catherine Goodwin has started all 18 games for the Bears in her first year of college. (Yiwen Zha | Student Life)

After losing three out of their last four games, the Washington University women’s basketball team needed a big weekend to bolster their case for a March Madness berth as the Division III playoff race begins to take shape. Over the weekend, that’s exactly what they did, defeating Carnegie Mellon University on Jan. 26 and Case Western Reserve University on Jan. 28 in front of an electric home crowd.

The weekend got off to a strong start as the Bears faced their University Athletic Association (UAA) rival, the Carnegie Mellon Tartans. WashU led the entire wire-to-wire game. The Bears led by five at halftime and 12 in the third quarter, but the Tartans applied pressure until the buzzer sounded, forcing the Bears to hit their free throws down the stretch. 

Protecting a lead for an entire game is difficult, but the Bears were able to come away with a 90-81 win. “Obviously, things will go wrong, but you[‘ve] got to take it next play after next play and keep playing the whole time,” first-year guard Sidney Rogers said after the win.

That’s precisely what they did, with first-year center Lexy Harris dropping 32 points (22 points in the second half) and adding 11 rebounds en route to a double-double, her sixth of the season, in just 21 minutes of play. Harris, who was named the UAA Player of the Week, is averaging 16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks while shooting an impressive 58.7% from the field.

Communication was another critical aspect of the win this weekend, highlighted by an ability to keep the ball moving and play with a lot of energy on the court. The Bears recorded 17 assists on Friday, their best mark yet in this season’s UAA play while giving up the ball only 12 times.

After last week’s loss to No. 1 New York University, in which the team started slow, the team emphasized high intensity from the start. “The energy was constantly up, and we constantly encouraged each other because once we do, everything flows,” said Rodgers. 

First-year guard Alyssa Hughes added another 11 points to the Bears victory, including five out of the team’s 25 points in the fourth quarter. “We worked the ball both inside and outside, guarded in unison,” Hughes said. “Overall [it was] just a great team win.”

The second game of the weekend saw the Bears matchup against the Case Western Reserve Spartans, a team they lost to twice last year.

“The goal is to keep the energy high and go out and get them,” senior guard Christina Walker said before the game. 

The Bears’ energy didn’t yield instant results, and they entered the halftime break trailing 40-33. However, they finally found their stride in the third quarter, taking a 47-46 lead six minutes in, before going on a run to end the third quarter up 61-53. 

The squad cemented their victory in the final 10 minutes, outscoring their opponents 21-12 en route to an 82-65 win. While Case Western had shot 16-for-35 in the first half, WashU’s stout defense held them to just five-for-25 from the field in the second half.

Offensively, Hughes scored a career-high 20 points off of the bench in the resounding win, shooting five-for-eight from beyond the three-point arc. Senior guard Jessica Brooks, who is averaging 14.7 points per game, chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds. 

After winning their last three games, the Bears now sit at 4-3 in UAA play, tied for third in the division. The Bears look to extend their winning streak when they go on the road to rematch against Carnegie Mellon on Feb. 2 and Case Western Reserve on Feb. 4. 

Additional reporting was contributed by Riley Herron and Ian Heft.

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