Vernon sparks women’s basketball in comeback win over Carnegie Mellon

| Staff Reporter

On Friday afternoon, Zoe Vernon was feeling the love. With the Bears stampeding back from a 14-point deficit, the junior forward came off the bench to score eight points in the final two minutes of regulation. That effort lifted the No. 10 ranked Washington University women’s basketball team dramatic comeback fashion 57-54 over Carnegie Mellon University on Valentine’s Day afternoon.

“I don’t even know what to say—I can’t believe what just happened,” Vernon said. “No matter the score, we kept fighting and fighting, and I guess the basketball gods were kind to us today.”

Guard Natalie Orr dribbles down court on Friday night in the Bears’ win against Case Western. Orr led the team in points with 23 and went five for ten in three-pointers.Claire Komyati | Student Life

Guard Natalie Orr dribbles down court on Friday night in the Bears’ win against Case Western. Orr led the team in points with 23 and went five for ten in three-pointers.

Vernon’s contribution came at the tail end of a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter in which the Bears forced eight turnovers and held the Tartans to 2-8 from the floor. Vernon’s heroics came with Wash. U. still down by three. First, she connected on a three off an assist from senior guard Katybeth Biewen to tie the game. Then, just 30 seconds later, she hit another shot from range, this time from freshman forward Steph Botkin. The shot gave the Bears their first lead since early in the third quarter.

The Bears dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring Carnegie Mellon 19-5. Wash. U. shot 45.5 percent in the quarter on 5-11 shooting while the Tartans only shot 25 percent during those final 10 minutes.

Carnegie Mellon would score to bring the game within one, but with a minute left, the defense made their final emphatic statement, when Steph Botkin blocked the Tartan’s final shot of the afternoon. On the ensuing inbound pass, Carnegie committed an offensive foul. In total, the Bears matched a season-high with 28 forced turnovers and set a season-high with 19 steals.

Vernon would ice the game with a pair of free throws.

“That was an incredible performance from our girls,” head coach Nancy Fahey said. “We might have started off sluggish, but we kept our composure and fought our way back. I absolutely love these types of wins because they bring out the best in us and point out aspects of our game we need to go work on. But I want to give credit to Carnegie Mellon. They played a great game throughout and fought until the end.”

The Tartans entered halftime with a 27-24 lead, but they exploded in the third quarter with a 19-8 advantage. Carnegie Mellon outrebounded the Bears 43-29 and shot 45.7 percent from the field compared to only 32.8 percent from Wash. U.

“Usually when we are outrebounded, it puts us in a difficult spot in the game,” Fahey said. “But I think what really helped us in the end were turnovers. When we eliminate those dumb mistakes, the pressure shifts to the other team and that worked to our advantage.”

Vernon finished the game with 10 points in eleven minutes while senior forward Amanda Martinez led the Bears with 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Senior guard Katybeth Biewen scored six points, five rebounds and six steals; the latter, moving her into a tie for seventh all-time in Wash. U. history.

“The seniors have demonstrated incredible leadership throughout the season,” Vernon said. “Everyone on the team looks up to them for guidance. We would definitely not be where we are today without them. We love them.”

Right before the Edwards-Fahey Court dedication on Friday night, the Bears steamrolled Case Western Reserve University 78-59. Orr led Wash. U. with 23 points on 9-16 shooting and accounted for five of the Bears’ eight threes on the night. This was the fourth time this season that Orr has scored more than 20 points.

Martinez added 14 points on 7-8 shooting and three steals, and Biewen collected five points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals. The bench also provided significant support with 25 points, with junior Jenn Dynis and Botkin adding eight points each. Wash. U. outrebounded Case by a margin of 40-26. This season, the team is undefeated when they outrebounded their opponents.

With the victories over the weekend, Wash. U. now sits in first place in the University Athletic Association with a conference record of 9-2. University of Rochester and New York University trail the Bears by one and three games, respectively. Next weekend, the Red and Green will travel to play Brandeis University and New York University.

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