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Gilkey reaches milestone as women’s basketball wins two on the road

| Senior Sports Editor

Junior forward Melissa Gilkey scored her 1,000th career point and tallied 39 points across two weekend games as Washington University’s second-ranked women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to 13. The Bears played their closest games of the season in defeating the University of Rochester 65-58 and Emory University 69-61.

Winning twice on the road, particularly in University Athletic Association play, gives the Red and Green their first undefeated record in the first half of the conference schedule since the 2002-03 season.

Against Rochester, the Bears led by seven with just more than a minute left in the first half, but the Yellowjackets finished the first 20 minutes on a 7-0 run and carried that momentum into the second half, building a 46-41 lead with 13 minutes remaining. The five-point deficit was Wash. U.’s largest on the road since the team’s sole loss this season, a Dec. 1 defeat to No. 1 DePauw University.

But after coach Nancy Fahey called a timeout, the Bears scored nine straight points on inside shots, and two minutes later, senior forward Jordan Rettig made a layup to give the Bears the lead for good.

“It was just kind of at a point in the game when we were a little bit rattled and we weren’t necessarily getting the best shots,” senior guard Lucy Montgomery said about the timeout, “and so I think the timeout was just to let us regain our composure.”

“We had a clear advantage inside, and they were letting the ball go inside,” Montgomery added. “I think our post this weekend was really good and something that we knew we had to take advantage of just because of our size.”

Gilkey led the Bears with 22 points, none more important than a three-point play with 12:24 left that gave the All-American the 1,000th point of her career, making her the 13th Wash. U. player to reach the milestone.

“To be honest, I didn’t know that this was going to be the weekend. I wasn’t aware of how close I was, so it came as kind of a surprise,” Gilkey said. “It’s a great thing to accomplish, and I’m definitely very happy, but I think it was more important that we came away with two wins this weekend. I surely wouldn’t have been as happy if that was not the case.”

That second win came in another tight road game. Wash. U. led by single digits for most of the contest, but a 15-4 run spanning both halves gave the Bears a cushion, and Emory never cut the lead below five the rest of the way.

“It’s a really good testament to just the way we’re able to continually improve our games and kind of put teams away,” Montgomery said of the team’s play at the end of games. “It seems like we would always have an answer to their runs this weekend, which is I think a key step and something maybe we might not have been able to do in past years.”

Five players scored in double figures for the Bears against Emory, with junior forward Alyssa Johanson scoring 12 points off the bench on efficient 6-for-9 shooting and Gilkey leading the way with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Gilkey has scored in double digits in all 17 of Wash. U.’s wins this year and leads the UAA with 18.9 points per game in conference play.

With a 7-0 UAA record, the Red and Green hold a two-game lead over second-place New York University as they chase their first conference title since 2010.

“I think having these close-game experiences…make us better every single game, and I think that’s one thing we love about our conference, is that every single game, every win, we have to work hard for it, so when we come out with a win, it feels great knowing that we deserve it,” Gilkey said.

No Wash. U. game has been decided by fewer than seven points so far this season, and with more than half of their conference road schedule behind them, the Bears will look to capitalize on their home-court advantage to extend their winning streak. That quest continues this weekend with return trips from Rochester and Emory.

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