No. 9 Bears Clinch NCAA Bid with Senior Day Win Over Chicago

No. 9 Bears Clinch NCAA Bid with Senior Day Win Over Chicago

St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 28, 2015 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team went 6-of-6 at the fee-throw line in the final 47 seconds to seal a 63-56 win over the University of Chicago in the final University Athletic Association (UAA) game of the season Saturday afternoon at the WU Field House.

With the win, WashU finished the regular season with a 23-2 overall record and a 12-2 mark in the UAA, while Chicago finished 18-7 overall and 12-2 in the conference. The two teams finished as UAA co-champions, marking the Bears' 21st UAA title and second in a row. With WashU's sweep of the season series, the Bears earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled to air at 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 2 on NCAA.com.

WashU held a 29-26 lead at halftime, but Chicago tied the score three times in the first eight minutes of the second half. After a basket by the Maroons made it 38-38 with 12:25 to play, freshman Natalie Orr drained a three from the baseline before hitting a pullup jumper in the lane to give the Bears the lead for good at 43-38 with 11:33 left in the game. A Chicago basket cut the Bears' lead to three, before back-to-back baskets by seniors Alyssa Johanson and Melissa Gilkey gave WashU its largest lead of the game at 47-40 with 8:15 remaining.

The Maroons answered with six straight points, before a basket by Gilkey regained a three-point lead for the Bears at 49-46. After Chicago missed the front end of a one-and-one, Johanson drove for a layup to extend the Bears' lead to five with 4:22 on the clock. The teams traded baskets for the next two minutes, and Gilkey made both of her bonus free throws to once again make it a five-point game (55-50) with 1:50 to play. Junior Katybeth Biewen got a steal on the defensive end for WashU, and Johanson made the second of two free throws to make it a six-point game. After another big defensive stop, Johanson grabbed the rebound and was fouled, where she hit one of two free throws to make it a three-possession game with 1:07 left.

The Bears were whistled for a foul with 1:03 to play, and Chicago's Elizabeth Nye made both free throws to cut the lead to five. After a turnover by the Bears on the in-bounds, Nye banked in a three to make it 57-55 with 49 seconds left. Junior Jordan Thompson made a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game, but WashU was whistled for another foul that sent Nye to the free-throw line with 39.6 seconds left. After making the first, she missed the second and Johanson grabbed the rebound. The Bears had another turnover, but Nye's three-pointer was off the mark and the Bears got the rebound. After Thompson made both free throws to extend the lead to five, Gilkey grabbed the rebound of another missed three by the Maroons and was fouled with 1.8 seconds on the clock. She made both free throws to seal the 63-56 win for the Bears.

The first half was back and forth throughout, with Chicago taking an early 7-6 lead, before back-to-back three-pointers by senior Maddy Scheppers and Orr gave the Bears a 12-7 advantage with 12:08 to play in the first half. The Maroons went on an 11-0 run over the next 3:30 to take their largest lead of the half at 18-12, before a baseline three by Scheppers ended the Bears' scoring drought.

After a layup by Chicago extended its lead to 20-15, Johanson made a free throw, and Gilkey and Thompson got back-to-back steals and layups to tie the game at 20-20 with 4:08 left in the half. After another tie at 22-22, the Maroons banked in a three with two seconds on the shot clock to regain a 25-22 lead. Johanson made both of her double-bonus free throws, before Scheppers converted a three-point play. After a defensive stop, Biewen drained a jumper to give the Bears a 29-25 lead. The Maroons made one of two free throws in the final 30 seconds to head to halftime with WashU leading 29-26.

WashU shot 31.7 percent (20-63) from the field, including five three-pointers, while Chicago shot 40 percent (22-55) from the field. The Maroons were just 4-of-17 from three-point range in the game, including just 1-of-9 in the second half. Free throws were the difference, as WashU converted 18-of-25, including 10-of-12 in the second half. Chicago finished just 8-of-16 at the foul line. The Bears also finished with a 44-41 rebounding advantage and a 21-15 edge in points off turnovers.

Gilkey, Johanson and Scheppers finished with 14 points each to lead the Bears. Gilkey also had 12 rebounds to get her 30th career double-double. Johanson and Scheppers added seven rebounds each. Orr tallied eight points off the bench on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2-of-2 from three-point range. Thompson chipped in with seven points, including 5-of-6 at the free-throw line.

Bear Notebook: Prior to the game, WashU recognized its six seniors – Gilkey, Johanson, Alexandra Keane, Alexis Mort, Scheppers and Steph Vukotic … The Bears' senior class has helped WashU to a 90-17 record in their four seasons … WashU leads the all-time series against Chicago 48-13, and the Bears have won each of the last six games between the two teams … The Bears improved to 21-0 this season when leading at halftime … WashU finished the regular season 12-0 at home … WashU has outrebounded 21 of its 25 opponents this season and is 80-7 since 2011-12 when winning the rebounding battle … Gilkey passed Tasha Rodgers (1997-2001) for second on WashU's all-time scoring leaderboard with 1,644 career points … Thompson passed Erica Stagen (1994-98) for sixth on WashU's all-time career assists leaderboard with 314 … Scheppers passed Jaimie McFarlin (2005-10) for sixth on the Bears' all-time career list with 176 steals … Scheppers passed Halsey Ward (2008-09) for seventh on the Bears' single-season leaderboard with 57 this year.