Second-Half Defense Keys No. 5 Bears to 63-48 Win at Wartburg

Second-Half Defense Keys No. 5 Bears to 63-48 Win at Wartburg

Waverly, Iowa, Dec. 30, 2014 – The No. 5-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team held Wartburg College without a field goal over the final 13 minutes of the game as the Bears pulled away in the second half for a 63-48 win at the Wartburg Holiday Tournament Tuesday afternoon.

Senior Alyssa Johanson scored 16 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds to earn Most Valuable Player honors at the tournament. Senior Melissa Gilkey joined her on the all-tournament team after scoring six points and grabbing a career-best 16 rebounds.

Washington U. improved to 11-0 on the season, marking the first time since the 2002-03 season the Bears will enter conference play undefeated. Wartburg fell to 9-2 overall with the loss. Washington U. begins University Athletic Association (UAA) play by traveling to Chicago to face the University of Chicago at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10.

The Bears struggled to get into an offensive flow at the start of the game, with three turnovers before getting on the scoreboard with a three-pointer from the baseline by senior Maddy Scheppers with 17:35 left. Wartburg started the game red-hot from three-point range, scoring 18 of its first 22 points from beyond the arc as the Knights built a 24-9 lead with 10:12 remaining in the opening half.

Gilkey scored on a reverse layup and added a pair of free throws after junior Jordan Thompson made one of two foul shots, bringing the Bears within 24-14. Another three-pointer by Wartburg made it 27-14, but junior Katybeth Biewen drove the baseline and scored on a reverse layup to spark a 10-0 run for the Bears over the next four minutes, cutting the Knights' lead to 27-24 with 4:12 to play on a pullup jumper by senior Alexandra Keane.

Wartburg got a free throw, then made a basket after getting the offensive rebound on the missed second free throw to extend the lead back to six, but a three from the baseline by Johanson brought Washington U. back to within 30-27. After Wartburg's eighth three of the half made it 33-30, sophomore Ereka Hunt scored on a putback and Gilkey made two more free throws to make it a two-point game with just more than a minute to play in the half. A three-pointer by Thompson with 47 seconds left in the period gave the Bears their first lead of the half, and send them to the locker room with a 34-33 lead. 

Keane drained a three-pointer on the Bears' first possession of the second half, and Scheppers scored on a fastbreak layup after a steal by Biewen to make it 39-33 in favor of Washington U. with 18:57 to play. Wartburg pulled to within 41-39 after making its second three-pointer of the half with 17:24 remaining, but Johanson answered with a three to make it 44-39. After a basket by the Knights, Scheppers and Biewen hit back-to-back threes to extend the Bears' lead to 50-41 with 14:36 left. Wartburg scored a pair of buckets to cut the lead to 50-45 with 13:27 to play, but the Bears held the Knights without a field goal the remainder of the game, and a three-pointer by Thompson started a 13-3 run for Washington U. as the Bears finished the game with the 15-point win.

Washington U. shot 39 percent (23-59) from the field in the game, including a season-high 11 three-pointers. Wartburg finished with 30.4 percent (17-56) shooting from the field. After making eight three-pointers in the first half, the Knights were just 5-of-25 from the field, including just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, in the second half. Washington U. dominated the boards, outrebounding Wartburg 52-29 in the game.

Johanson and Thompson finished with 16 points each to lead the Bears in the win, including a combined 6-of-12 from three-point range. Scheppers added eight points, while Hunt had seven points and a career-high five rebounds. Gilkey tallied six points and a career-best 16 rebounds to go with her two assists and two blocked shots. Keane recorded five points, a career-high five rebounds and four assists, and Biewen also finished with five points and team-highs of five assists and four steals.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. improved to 3-1 all-time against Wartburg, including a 47-37 win over the Knights in the Wartburg Holiday Tournament Championship game Dec. 30, 2011 … The Bears have outrebounded 10 of their 11 opponents this season, and are 69-7 since the 2011-12 season when winning the rebounding battle … Gilkey brought her career rebounding total to 735, passing Hallie Hutchens (2001-05) for fifth on the Bears' all-time leaderboard.