Women’s basketball stays atop conference with two road wins

Gadiel Rosenblut | Staff Reporter

One week after scoring landslide home victories over Carnegie Mellon University and Case Western Reserve University, the No. 7 Washington University women’s basketball team rode the hot shooting of senior guard Maddy Scheppers to achieve similar outcomes with convincing 71-61 and 89-65 road wins.

The pair of victories allowed the Bears (19-1 overall record) to keep pace with the University of Chicago atop the University Athletic Association with an 8-1 conference record.

Senior forward Melissa Gilkey dribbles past a Rose-Hulman defender on Nov. 21. Gilkey scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven assists against Carnegie Mellon University on Friday.Stephen Huber | Student Life

Senior forward Melissa Gilkey dribbles past a Rose-Hulman defender on Nov. 21. Gilkey scored 16 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and had seven assists against Carnegie Mellon University on Friday.

On Friday, Carnegie Mellon’s defense struggled to keep up with the Bears’ crisp passes as well as the players’ constant flashes in set play. The Tartans’ zone formation left significant open spaces at the wings and corners, and Scheppers was able to exploit those openings from tipoff.

The senior guard had four triples in the first 4:23 of the game to helping Wash. U. jump out to a 14-9 lead that eventually turned into a 43-24 advantage at halftime. Scheppers (21 points) finished the game with a career-high seven triples on 7-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc.

“It just proves that if you’re going to give her an open shot, she’s going to take it and she’s going to make it,” senior guard Alyssa Johanson said. “It shows how much work she puts in outside of practice, shooting on her own, shooting with coaches.”

Johanson scored 14 points while senior forward Melissa Gilkey nearly tallied a triple-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while dishing out a career-high seven assists.

Defensively, the Red and Green lightened up in the second half—after holding Carnegie Mellon to 24 points in the first half, the Bears surrendered 37 in the second, which resulted in a significantly tighter score than the 73-49 win against the Tartans a week earlier.

Two days later, the Bears turned in a scorching shooting performance against Case Western. Eleven players scored for the Red and Green and combined for 32-of-64 shooting (50 percent) from the field.

Scheppers followed up her career night by hitting three triples in the first 4:25 of the game, and she was seemingly on track for another historic night, but the scoring quickly spread out for the Bears. Holding onto a 26-20 lead, the Bears finished the first half on an 18-3 run to break the game wide open and head into the half with a 21-point lead.

In the second half, Case Western never cut its deficit to below 20, and the Bears built up their lead to as much as 31 as they coasted to their 11th victory of at least 20 points this season.

Though Gilkey struggled to just 13 points in the game—six below her season average—on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, Johanson tallied 13 as well on a more efficient shooting night (6 of 8 from the field) and Scheppers added 12 on her four three-pointers.

With the game well in hand, the Bears were able to rest their starters, which resulted in 37 total points from the bench. Senior center Steph Vukotic, sophomore guard Ereka Hunt and freshman guard Natalie Orr combined for 27 points off the bench. Vukotic especially created mismatches in the post, offensively and defensively, that helped lead to a 28-16 points in the paint advantage for the Bears.

“That’s what our team is about. We’re not just five girls then dropping off. We have a great bench and that’s something I’m so proud of, and I think a lot of teams can’t say that,” Johanson said. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work too and just really proved that today.”

With two road victories already in hand, the women’s basketball team will head to Emory University and the University of Rochester next weekend in pursuit of two more wins to cap the four-game road trip.

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