Bears Headed to NCAA Division III Record Ninth Final Four
St. Louis, Mo., March 13, 2010 – The No. 6 Washington University in St. Louis women’s basketball team clinched its NCAA Division III record ninth trip to the Final Four and avenged its 2009 national championship loss to George Fox University in the process, upending the Bruins, 59-52, on Saturday, March 13, at the Washington University Field House in St. Louis, Mo.
Sophomore Claire Schaeperkoetter came off the bench to lead Washington University with a career-high 16 points and a career-best four three-point field goals. Senior Janice Evans reached double figures for the fourth-straight NCAA Tournament game with 13 points and senior Zoë Unruh was 3-of-5 from thee-point range, tallying 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.
During the 2010 NCAA Tournament run, Unruh is averaging a team-high 18 points per game, with 3.8 three-pointers per game while shooting 50 percent from three-point range. Evans is averaging 13.8 points per game, and shooting 55 percent from the field.
Washington U., who is making its NCAA Division III record 21st-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, tied the University of Scranton for the most wins in Division III postseason history with a 53-18 all-time tournament record. The Bears will be appearing in the Final Four for the third time over the last four years. Washington U. is now 9-1 all-time in NCAA sectional final games.
“Hats off to George Fox, it was a great game. It took us a little while to get used to what they were doing but our kids came up with some huge, huge shots. Holding them to 52 points, I was very proud of their performance on both ends,” Washington University head coach Nancy Fahey said.
Washington University opened the game on a 9-0 run and had four different players score over that span. Junior Alex Hoover drained the first bucket of the game, a three-pointer to give WU a 3-0 lead, and it was 5-0 following a jumper from graduate student Jaimie McFarlin.
Freshman Hannah Munger hit a lay-up for George Fox at the 15:47 mark to end the Bruins’ scoreless drought and she sparked what turned into an 11-0 George Fox run. Washington U. did not hit a field goal for a stretch of 4:06 until Schaeperkoetter drained a three-pointer put the Bears up by one.
Schaeperkoetter went on to hit three threes over the three minutes of game time, with her last pushing the Washington U. lead to 20-16. However, from that point forward the WU offense went cold and George Fox ended the half on an 11-4 run to take a three-point lead into the locker room.
“I knew that we were going against a zone defense and sometimes you have to spread out the zone by hitting outside shots,” Schaeperkoetter said. “I know that is one of my roles when I go in, so I was trying to be ready, looking for my open shot.”
Washington University hit just one field goal over the final 8:57 of the first half, going 1-for-14 from the field during that period and turning the ball over four times. A lay-up from GFU’s Keisha Gordon gave the Bruins a 25-24 lead, and Munger made a lay-up with just over a minute remaining to put the Bruins up by three.
Schaeperkoetter led the WU first-half attack with nine points and Munger matched that effort with nine to pace George Fox. The Bruins outscored Washington U. 18-10 in the paint, but the Red and Green held a 13-5 advantage in bench scoring.
Unruh’s first three of the game came at the 17:09 mark of the second half, ending a WU field goal drought that began in the first half, and the score was tied at 29-29 when Hoover found Evans for an open 10-foot baseline jumper.
Neither team led by more than one possession until Washington U. built a four-point lead with 8:10 to play. McFarlin found Evans under the basket for an easy lay-in to make the score 39-37, and Schaeperkoetter was fouled on a three-point attempt, converting 2-of-3 free-throws to put her team up by four.
A pair of Munger free-throws pulled George Fox back within two, but Bears responded with a 7-0 run that allowed them to steadily put the game out of reach. An Unruh three made the score 44-39, and a 12-foot jumper from junior Kathryn Berger gave the Red and Green a seven-point lead.
“Hats off to Washington University. They shot the ball well in the second half. We could not get comfortable and we just did not shoot the ball well tonight,” George Fox head coach Scott Rueck said.
Gordon drained her third three of the game to end the Bears’ scoring run and cut her team’s deficit to just four, but Schaeperkoetter responded with her career-high fourth three pointer on Washington University’s next possession and the lead was back to nine following a McFarlin jumper.
The Bears are now 21-5 all time in NCAA Tournament home contests and Washington U. has won nine-straight games as NCAA hosts, although it was just the second time in school history hosting the NCAA sectional round. With the win, WUSTL improved to 16-0 at home this season, and the Bears have won 28-straight games at the Washington UniversityField House dating back to last season.
Washington University’s national semifinal game will feature another rematch from last year’s Final Four, as the Bears will square off with No. 1 Amherst College on Friday, March 19, at 5 p.m., at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Ill. Washington U. defeated Amherst 65-49 in last year’s national semifinal in Holland, Mich. The game time for Friday is to be determined.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. has now held 27 of 29 opponents to no better than 40 percent shooting … Saturday’s sectional final featured two of the nation’s top defensive teams, with WU giving up 52.5 points per game, while George Fox was allowing 47.9 ppg, the fourth-best mark in Division III … The Bears trailed at the half for just the fifth time this season and they are 3-2 in those contests … Unruh is shooting 37-of-77 (48.1 percent) from three-point range since Jan. 31 … With five assists against George Fox, Hoover passed Kim Brandt (1989-93) for eighth-place in school history with 297 assists in her career.