Berger and Sayers Lead Women's Basketball Past New England, 64-53
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St. Louis, Mo., December 3, 2010 – The No. 6 ranked Washington University in St. Louis women’s basketball team advanced to the championship game of the 10th Annual McWilliams Classic with a 64-53 victory over the University of New England on Friday night at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.
Washington University limited New England to 29.2 percent (14-of-48) shooting from the field, and set an all-time McWilliams Classic record with 56 team rebounds. The Bears outrebounded the Nor’easters, 56-32, and had a 24-5 advantage in second-chance points.
Senior Kathryn Berger led the Bears with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Annie Sayers added a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds in the win. Junior Bethany Morrison also had a career-night scoring nine points, while junior Dani Hoover tied a career-best with eight rebounds.
Washington U. went into the half ahead by five points despite shooting just 24.4 percent (10-of-41) from the field during the first 20 minutes of action. Berger was the bright spot offensively, scoring a team-high 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.
It was Berger that powered the Bears’ early charge, as she knocked down an early three and converted a three-point opportunity to put the Red and Green ahead by seven points, 12-5, just over five minutes into the game. The Bears capitalized on four New England turnovers during that early surge.
The Nor’easters went a span of nearly five minutes without a field goal during the first half, but found themselves trailing by just four points when Liz LeBlanc drained a three with 12:12 to play in the half. Washington University responded with an 8-3 run over the next four minutes, pulling ahead by nine points with a Morrison triple at the 8:23 mark.
New England fought back, cutting its deficit to just five points a little over two minutes later, when Carrie Bunnell made a driving lay-up in the paint; the five-point margin was the smallest since LeBlanc’s three with 12 minutes to play.
The Bears had their stout defense and a large rebounding advantage to thank for their lead at the half. Washington U. turned New England over 13 times in the opening period, and held a commanding 30-15 margin on the glass. The Bears also limited New England to just eight first-half field goals.
New England (4-2) trimmed the advantage to two (30-28) following a three-pointer by Kelley Paradis, but a 6-0 run by the Bears got the lead back to eight at 36-28. Washington U. took a 42-32 advantage after Alex Hoover found younger sister Dani Hoover in the corner for an 18-foot jumper with the shot clock winding down.
The Nor’easters got the lead down to nine at 50-41 with less than four minutes remaining, but a free-throw and a three-pointer by Morrison got the lead back up to 13 for the Bears.
Margo Russell had a game-high 22 points for New England, connecting on 13-of-14 free-throws.
Washington University (4-1) takes on Elmhurst College in the McWilliams Classic final on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. The Bluejays advanced to the championship game with a 64-54 victory over Ohio Wesleyan University. Megan Ney (22 points, 11 rebounds), Meghan Merklein (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Kelsey Monroe (12 points) scored 55 of 64 points for Elmhurst.
Bear Notebook: With Friday night’s win Washington University head coach Nancy Fahey won the 575th game of her career; she is 575-101 (.850) in 25 seasons at Washington University … Washington University improved its home winning streak to 31-straight games.