Womens’ basketball wins 1,000th game in record-setting weekend

| Staff Writer

Sidney Rogers dribbles in the defeat to No. 1 NYU. (Jialing Sun | Student Life)

In the 1979-80 season — the first season in Washington University womens’ basketball history — the Bears defeated Lindenwood University for their first win in program history. The Bears won that game convincingly, defeating the Lions by a 31-point margin. 

A lot has changed since 1979. William H. Danforth is no longer the Chancellor of WashU, and Lindenwood’s women’s basketball program now sits at the bottom of Division I’s Ohio Valley Conference. What has not changed, however, is the Bears’ ability to win their milestone games convincingly. 

999 wins later, WashU defeated Brandeis University 77-30 on Feb. 18 to clinch the program’s thousandth victory. Per the WashU Athletic Department, the Bears’ victory was the first time they had conceded 30 or fewer points in a game since the 2012-13 season. This game also marked the fewest points that WashU has allowed in Randi Henderson’s seven-year tenure as head coach. 

“Winning 1,000 games is really special for the team and the coaches,” first-year center Lexy Harris said. “This team has shown it is very capable of winning — we’re going to be a problem down the road.” 

The win came just two days after an 80-56 loss to No. 1 New York University (NYU), ending a win streak that had catapulted the Bears towards the top of the University Athletic Association (UAA) standings. After the split weekend, the Bears have a 9-4 conference record, tied for second place in the conference behind the undefeated NYU squad. 

WashU v. NYU

The Bears’ weekend started off on a sour note, with WashU falling to NYU 80-56 to snap its seven-game winning streak. With their victory, the Violets have clinched the UAA title for the third straight year. NYU swept both games on its road trip to face WashU and the University of Chicago this weekend — a win against Brandeis University next weekend would give the Violets an undefeated 25-0 regular season record heading into the NCAA tournament. 

The Violets started hot, outpacing the Bears 39-23 at halftime. After the half, the Bears paced NYU, but the Violets’ offensive and defensive machines stopped any WashU attempt for a comeback. NYU shot 60% from the field, compared to WashU at just 40%. The Violets also racked up more rebounds, blocks, and steals than the Bears.

Senior guard Jessica Brooks, who leads the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game in conference play, led WashU with 19 points and eight rebounds. In just 16 minutes of play, Harris recorded 11 points. Sophomore forward Jordan Rich shot a perfect two-for-two from the field, hitting two three-pointers to score six points off the bench. 

Nailah McBeth takes a contested jumper Friday night. (Jialing Sun | Student Life)

WashU v. Brandeis

Coming off the loss against NYU, the Bears needed to respond in a big way against Brandeis,  a team that sits at the bottom of the UAA standings. WashU won in a dominant fashion, keeping its playoff hopes alive. 

Directly after tip-off, the Bears scored seven points in the first two minutes of the game before Brandeis could record a rebound. WashU took a 12-3 lead halfway through the quarter, though Brandeis began to storm back. The Judges went on an 8-3 run, narrowing WashU’s lead to just four at the end of the first frame. For the rest of the game, the Bears’ defense stole the show. Brandeis scored more in the first quarter than they did in the second and third quarters combined, only recording nine points in the middle two periods. 

“Everyone on the perimeter has just been doing their job,” Harris said. “We let Brandeis get zero threes against us, and that’s how they [usually] score their points.”  

The Bears were especially impressive in the third quarter, where they outscored the Judges 23-2. Sophomore forward Nailah McBeth led the Bears’ offensive charge in the third with nine points and two rebounds in six minutes. The WashU defense stood tall for the remainder of the game, limiting Brandeis to just 30 total points.

The Bears will host the University of Chicago for their final game of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 24. The Bears will honor senior guards Brooks, Christina Walker, and Katie Minkler as part of Senior Day festivities. 

The final game of the season will carry serious tournament ramifications. WashU is currently ranked fifth in Region VIII behind teams like early-season rivals Illinois Wesleyan University and Millikin University. Since NYU clinched the UAA title with its victory over the Bears, the Violets will receive the only guaranteed bid to the tournament among UAA teams. To make the tournament, WashU must receive one of a limited number of at-large bids. After early struggles, the Bears hope that winning eight out of their last nine games is enough to go dancing in this year’s tournament. 

“We know we can win,” Harris said, looking forward to Saturday’s regular-season finale. “We’re practicing super hard in preparation, and we know that if we do everything we need to do, we’ll win the game.” 

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