Your 2012 Washington University women’s basketball postseason primer

| Senior Sports Editor

Dani Hoover, No. 1, senior guard

One of the team’s four senior captains and the team leader in minutes played (29.4 per game), Hoover has been a leader for the Bears in several ways this year. First and foremost, she is the team’s top scoring option—her 11.2 points per game lead the team, and she has scored in double-figures in six straight and in 14 of her last 17. She’s one of the squad’s better shooters in several ways, shooting 43 percent overall, 38.7 percent from three-point range, and 82 percent at the foul line. She can run the team’s offense, as she’s second in assists on the Bears with 63 total. And finally, she can rebound very well for a guard (especially one at 5-foot-5), pulling down 4.7 per game.

Melissa Gilkey, No. 21, freshman forward

The 6-foot-1 Gilkey has been a tremendous presence inside for the Bears all season long. In addition to standing just behind Hoover in the scoring ranks with 10.6 points per game, her seven rebounds per game lead the team and are the most for Wash. U. by anyone other than former standout Jaimie McFarlin in the 2006-07 season. She is also the team’s best at drawing contact down low, getting to the line a team-best 99 times.

Maddy Scheppers, No. 23, freshman guard

Having started eight of the team’s final nine games this season, Scheppers helped propel the team with huge performances in a pair of close wins against Emory (on Jan. 29) and Rochester (on Feb. 3). She contributes around six points and four boards a game but has had performances where she hits repeatedly from behind the three-point line, and it will be huge for Wash. U. if she can pull one of those performances out during the tournament.

Other key players

Rounding out the starting lineup are seniors Brianne Monahan, a forward who brings another strong presence inside, and Bethany Morrison, a pass-first point guard who leads the team in assists at four per game. Weapons off the bench include senior guard Claire Schaeperkoetter, who has the capability to be a huge spark for the team offensively, sophomore forward Jordan Rettig, who adds depth down low, and freshman forward Alyssa Johanson, whose role has dramatically increased since the beginning of conference play in January.

This weekend

Having made the tournament by winning the USA South Conference, Ferrum will meet with Wash. U. on Friday at Centre College in Danville, Ky., in the first round of the tournament. The Virginia-based school deploys some old-fashioned run-and-gun basketball—they are fourth in all of Division III in scoring (77.7 points per game) and second in shooting percentage (46.4 percent). Their only contest against a currently ranked team was a 75-64 loss to undefeated No. 7 University of Mary Washington on Jan. 16.

If the Bears defeat Ferrum, they will face the winner of the Centre College-Guilford College matchup.

Keys to success:

1. Start strongly and quickly
The Bears are outscoring their opponents by less than three points per game in the first half of contests this season; in the second half, that number jumps to just over six points per game. While the Bears’ ability to come out strong in the second half is an enviable one, it would be in their best interests not to get started on the wrong foot and be forced to rely on strong second-half play to advance.

2. Guard the perimeter
Defensively, the Bears rank 347th out of 434 NCAA teams in opponents’ three-point percentage for the season, allowing 31.6 percent of threes to fall. Going up against Ferrum (ranked No. 62 in the nation at 32.7 percent) and possibly host Centre College (ranked No. 3, 38.7 percent), this could be a huge problem. Hoover and the rest of the backcourt have to be ready on the outsides and cannot afford to allow open threes.

3. Make your free throws
In what is usually an area of strength, the Bears have only been draining 67.7 percent of their free throws this year, which is in the middle of the pack across Division III and is their lowest mark since the 2006-07 season. A bad performance from the charity stripe was part of their undoing in last season’s national championship game against Amherst. Against some of the best teams in the country, getting the easy points is an absolute must.

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