Women’s basketball suffers season’s first loss in clash of top-10 teams
In a conference battle between two teams ranked in the top 10, No. 3 Washington University fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 64-58 road loss against No. 7 New York University on Friday. But Wash. U. turned things around on Sunday, erasing a 12-point halftime deficit against Brandeis University to salvage a split of the road trip and improve to 15-1 overall and 4-1 in the University Athletic Association.
In front of a rowdy home crowd on Friday night, the Violets used a stingy defense to hold the Bears to their worst shooting numbers of the season. Wash. U. shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the field and hit just 6-of-24 shots from three-point range. The Bears also struggled to get to the charity stripe, making 10 of only 14 free-throw attempts compared to the Violets converting 21 of 29 attempts.
NYU led for most of the game, and the Violets hit four of their first five shots from the field to take an early 10-7 lead. Both teams traded points until a layup by senior forward Melissa Gilkey put Wash. U. up 19-18 with 9:41 to go in the first half. However, NYU found its rhythm and rattled off 10 straight points to seize a 28-19 lead. The Violets maintained their lead and headed into the half with a 41-31 advantage.
When play resumed, the Bears and Violets traded 5-0 runs to make it 48-38 with 15:29 remaining. After pulling within 52-50, the Bears were held without a point for nearly 3 1/2 minutes as NYU maintained a 56-50 lead.
Senior guard Alyssa Johanson hit three free throws to end the scoring drought and trim the lead down to three points with 2:37 to go, but NYU responded with an 8-3 run to put the Violets up 61-55 with 49 seconds left. A three by Gilkey cut the deficit to three, but NYU converted an acrobatic layup to ice the game and hand the Bears their first loss.
Johanson chipped in a team-high 16 points in the game, but Gilkey, who leads the team with a 19.2 points per game average, scored just seven points on 3-of-14 shooting. The Bears were out-rebounded, 39-38, for just the second time this season.
“There’s something to learn from every game. NYU came in ready to work and rebound hard, and while we were well-prepared for the game, our energy level wasn’t what it normally is. We made some great runs back at them in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap,” Gilkey said. “Next game, we will come in with our usual intensity and focus from the start.”
On Sunday, the Bears got off to another slow start as the Judges shot 56.7 percent from the field on their way to a 44-32 lead. However, a suddenly red-hot offense and a tenacious defense culminated in the Bears outscoring the Judges 45-14 in the second half, fueled by a 20-0 run midway through the half.
“We kept the energy up, the intensity up, and we didn’t think they could keep making shots like they were. We stopped dribble penetration more in the second half and got them out of their rhythm,” senior guard Maddy Scheppers said.
The Bears held a 53-37 rebounding advantage, including a 25-10 edge on offensive boards, thanks in large part to junior guard Amanda Martinez, who finished with a team-high 13 rebounds. Gilkey returned to form after a rough outing against NYU by scoring 21 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Junior guard Jordan Thompson also finished with her first career double-double, leading the offense with 15 points and a team-high 10 assists.
After the team faced double-digit halftime deficits in both games this weekend, Scheppers believes the Bears must avoid slow starts when they take on Carnegie Mellon University and Case Western University next weekend at home.
“This weekend’s games were hard fought. Going forward we have to have better starts. We can’t start slow,” Scheppers said.