St. Louis, Mo., Dec. 5, 2015 – The No. 11-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team limited Simpson College to five field goals in the second half as the Bears claimed the 15th Annual McWilliams Classic Championship with a 74-49 victory Saturday night at the WU Field House.
Senior Amanda Martinez had a career night for the Bears, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds and six steals, to earn Jacqueline Bickel Schapp Most Valuable Player honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by junior teammate Zoe Vernon, Simpson's Maddie Bosworth and Katie Ahrenholtz, Wisconsin Lutheran College's Jen Dowden and Rhodes College's Blaire Smith.
After playing to a five-point halftime lead, WashU put on a dominating second-half performance. Vernon hit a three with 5:35 to play in the third quarter that pushed the Bears' lead to 49-37, but Simpson answered with a basket to trip the deficit to 10. WashU's defense stifled the Storm from that point, limiting them to just two field goals over the final 15 minutes of the game. Martinez made back-to-back baskets and sophomore Natalie Orr hit a baseline jumper then got a steal and a layup to give the Bears a 57-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Simpson made four straight free throws to start the final quarter, but Vernon drained her third triple of the game and Martinez made a layup off a spin move to put the game out of reach.
WashU scored the first seven points in the opening 80 seconds of the game, before Simpson got on the scoreboard and cut the lead to three with a pair of free throws. A three-pointer by junior Ereka Hunt gave the Bears their largest lead of the first quarter at 17-9, but the Storm answered with a second-chance basket and a three to again get to within three. Martinez converted a three-point play, but Simpson's third three of the game made it 20-17 after one quarter.
A basket by the Storm made it a one-point game early in the second quarter, but WashU went on a 9-3 run behind five points by junior Lily Sarros and four by Martinez to regain a seven-point advantage. After a basket by the Storm, Martinez buried a jumper from the elbow and freshman Sarah Greene scored to give WashU its largest lead at 33-24 with 5:24 to play. The teams traded threes, before Simpson scored six straight points to pull to within 36-33. Martine made two free throws in the final minute of the half to give the Bears a 38-33 lead at the break.
WashU shot a season-best 47.4 percent (27-57) from the field, including 13-of-26 in the second half. The Bears were also a season-best 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from three-point range. Simpson finished with 42.9 percent (18-42) field-goal shooting, but was just 5-of-19 in the second half. After making 5-of-9 from three-point range in the first half, the Storm went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second half. WashU's defense forced 25 turnovers in the game, finishing with a 28-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
In addition to Martinez's career-high 25 points, Sarros (13) and Vernon (12) also finished in double-figures. Vernon was 4-of-8 from three-point range and also grabbed four rebounds for the Bears. Orr added seven points and Hunt chipped in with six off the bench.
WashU improved to 6-1 overall with the win, while Simpson dropped to 4-4. Rhodes College defeated Wisconsin Lutheran College 53-50 in Saturday's consolation game of the McWilliams Classic. WashU finishes its five-game home stand by hosting Webster University Wednesday, Dec. 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the WU Field House.
Bear Notebook: It was the first meeting in school history between WashU and Simpson … The win was WashU's 21st in a row at home … The Bears improved to 28-2 all-time in the McWilliams Classic, winning the team title for the ninth year in a row … Martinez's six steals tied the McWilliams Classic single-game record set twice before … The Bears had 11 steals in the game, their fifth performance of 10 or more steals this season … WashU outscored Simpson 19-6 in the third quarter.