St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 28, 2015 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team led from start to finish as the Bears earned a 69-51 win over Illinois College Saturday afternoon in the Midwest Challenge at the WU Field House.
WashU improved to 3-1 with the win, while Illinois College dropped to 3-1. The Bears face No. 19 DePauw University in the championship game of the Midwest Challenge at 3 p.m. Sunday. Illinois College and Illinois Wesleyan University will play in the consolation game at 1. DePauw defeated Illinois Wesleyan 70-54 in Saturday's first game.
WashU got off to a quick start to the game, building a 12-2 lead in the opening five minutes. The Bears extended the lead to 19-7 with a jumper by junior Jenn Dynis with 1:07 to play in the opening quarter. WashU forced seven turnovers by Illinois College in the first quarter, ending the period with a 5-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Bears opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run and a three-point play by junior Lily Sarros gave them a 30-9 lead with 4:54 remaining in the first half. Illinois College took advantage of WashU reaching the foul limit with 4:47 to play in the half. The Lady Blues finished the second quarter with a 14-3 run that included 7-of-11 from the free-throw line to cut WashU's lead to 33-23 at halftime.
Senior Amanda Martinez scored the first six points of the third quarter to quickly extend WashU's lead to 39-23 with 8:26 to play. After a pair of free throws by Illinois College, Martinez scored four more points and assisted on a basket by Dynis A free throw by freshman Sarah Greene extended the Bears' lead to 46-25 with 5:09 left in the third quarter. WashU held Illinois College without a field goal for the first 5:02 of the second half and limited the Lady Blues to 3-for-12 shooting from the field in the third quarter. The Lady Blues pulled to within 18, but senior Paige Naig made a layup to make it 56-36 in favor of WashU after three quarters.
Junior Zoe Vernon drained a three to give WashU its largest lead of the game at 59-36 with 8:37 to play in the game. The Lady Blues got to within 15 before freshman Caroline Ballard hit a three after an offensive rebound by senior Liz Yucknut. After a basket by Illinois College, freshman Steph Botkin made back-to-back baskets to extend WashU's lead to 69-49, before two free throws by Illinois College finished the scoring in the game.
WashU shot 40.3 percent (27-67) from the field in the game, while Illinois College finished with 30 percent (15-50) shooting from the field. The Bears finished with a 48-34 rebounding advantage in the game after being outrebounded by five in the first half.
Martinez equaled her career-high with 15 points, all in the second half. Vernon added 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range, and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. Sarros finished with nine points, five rebounds and a career-high five blocked shots, while Dynis added nine points, three rebounds and three steals off the bench. Junior Ereka Hunt had seven points and five rebounds off the bench, and Greene equaled Vernon with a team-best seven rebounds to go with her three points.
Bear Notebook: WashU leads the all-time series against Illinois College 14-0 … It was WashU's 18th straight home win, dating to the 2013-14 season … Twelve different players scored in the game for the Bears … Illinois College had just three assists on 15 field goals … Senior Jordan Thompson had three assists to bring her career total to 342, passing Sarah Goldman (1990-94) for third in WashU's all-time career leaderboard … Sarros' five blocked shots marked the first time since 2012 that a WashU player has had at least five blocks in a single game.