Strong defense not enough as women’s basketball falls at Rochester

| Staff Reporter

Typically a stingy defense is the key ingredient to earning a victory, but Friday evening happened to be an exception as the No. 9 Washington University women’s basketball team lost to No. 13 University of Rochester 56-51 in Rochester, New York.

Wash. U. forced 26 turnovers during the contest, two off from their season high, with senior forward Amanda Martinez pacing the defense by posting a career-high eight steals.

Senior Katybeth Biewen dribbles down the court as her teammates cheer during the Bears’ Jan. 31 game against Emory, which they won 75-68. This weekend, the women’s basketball team lost to Rochester and defeated Emory while on the road.

Senior Katybeth Biewen dribbles down the court as her teammates cheer during the Bears’ Jan. 31 game against Emory, which they won 75-68. This weekend, the women’s basketball team lost to Rochester and defeated Emory while on the road.

“Defensively, we were very strong tonight,” Martinez said. “We forced turnovers and steals, but, on offense, we didn’t execute as well as we should have. We have to play well on both sides of the ball in order to win.”

Rebounding woes plagued the Bears throughout the game. Rochester dominated the glass by recording 54 rebounds, doubling the Bears’ total of 27. Along the way, the Yellowjackets also grabbed 17 offensive boards, leading to 19 second-chance points. In their first meeting of the season, Wash. U. outrebounded Rochester 44-36 en route to a 21-point victory.

“Rebounding was clearly an issue for us tonight, and, obviously, we are going to have to pick it up a notch from here on out,” head coach Nancy Fahey said. “There are no excuses. We can’t expect to win after being outrebounded like that, but Rochester deserves the credit. They asserted themselves in the post and fought harder than we did.”

Both Wash. U. and Rochester struggled from the field, hitting 31.3 percent and 33.3 percent of their shots, respectively. Sophomore guard Natalie Orr and junior forward Lily Sarros scuffled in particular, combining for nine points on 3-16 shooting.

Wash. U. fought hard to take a 28-25 lead entering halftime, after starting out on a 10-2 run early in the first quarter. The Bears muscled to a 44-33 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Rochester went on a 14-2 run to retake the lead. After senior point guard Jordan Thompson converted a fast break layup to put Wash. U. up 50-47, the Yellowjackets nailed a three-pointer and four free throws to seal the lead.

Martinez added 12 points on 6-15 shooting to provide some spark to the sputtering Bears’ offense, while Thompson recorded two assists to bring her career total to 400.

“Though we lost the game, I’m still pleased with the way team fought throughout,” Fahey said. “We’re bound to lose some close games, but we can learn some valuable lessons and get better as the regular season comes to a close.”

On Sunday afternoon, Wash. U. bounced back with a 72-69 victory over host Emory University. This time, the offense received a boost from the bench, led by junior Jenn Dynis, who put up 16 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Zoe Vernon also added 11 points off the bench. While the reserves chipped in 34 points in offensive support, Thompson and Martinez returned to form, contributing 14 and 12 points, respectively.

After facing a 26-19 deficit after the first quarter, the Red and Green dominated the second quarter 20-9 to seize the lead for good. The Bears also found offensive success in the paint, outscoring the Eagles 36-16 in the post. Wash. U. shot 45 percent from the field on 27-60 shooting.

With a win and a loss this weekend, Wash. U. now has a record of 16-4 and is 7-2 in conference play. The Bears currently sit in a two-way tie for first in the University Athletic Association, along with Rochester and New York University.

The Bears resume play with a home stand against Case Western Reserve University on Friday, Feb. 12, and a Sunday, Feb. 14 matchup versus Carnegie Mellon University. Wash. U. has defeated both of these teams on the road earlier in the season and will look to keep the momentum going as in the latter half of conference play.

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