No. 10 Bears Fall to No. 1 Thomas More in NCAA Sectional Final

No. 10 Bears Fall to No. 1 Thomas More in NCAA Sectional Final

Crestview Hills, Ky., March 12, 2016 The No. 10-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team had its season come to an end with an 88-72 loss in the NCAA Sectional Championship at No. 1 Thomas More College Saturday night.

The Bears finished their season with a 23-6 overall record after advancing to the Elite Eight for the 12th time and winning the 21st University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship in school history. Thomas More improved to 31-0 on the season.

Freshman Rachael Sondag scored a career-high 23 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, including 7-of-9 from three-point range. Senior Amanda Martinez and junior Lily Sarros had 12 points and seven rebounds each. Senior Jordan Thompson added 10 points, four assists and two steals. Her four assists increased her career total to 442, which tied Alex Hoover (2007-11) as WashU's all-time record holder. Senior Katybeth Biewen finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists in the final game of her career.

"We are really proud of this team. At the beginning of the season, a lot of people didn't see us getting this far," Biewen said. "We weren't picked to win the UAA. Even our own school newspaper said we would be 'hard-pressed' to return to the top-10, so we are very proud of making it this far. It's not how we wanted it to end, but it was a really fun game and a great atmosphere."

WashU got off to a blistering start to the game, hitting eight of its first 10 shots from the field. The Bears put together an 11-3 run midway through the first quarter to take a 17-10 lead on a three-pointer by junior Zoe Vernon. Thomas More answered with seven straight points to tie the score, but Sarros got a fastbreak layup with two seconds left in the period to give WashU a 19-17 lead at the end of the first.

Thomas More hit back-to-back threes to take a 25-21 lead early in the second quarter, but a baseline pullup jumper by Thompson and a baseline three-pointer by Sondag gave the Bears the lead back with 6:54 to play before halftime. The Saints went on a 17-5 run over the next 4:25 to take their largest lead of the half at 42-31. Sondag hit her third three of the quarter then buried a jumper after an in-bounds by the Bears with one second on the shot clock. Thomas More got a fastbreak layup in the final minute, before a free throw by Sarros made it 44-37 at halftime.

The Saints went on a 9-1 run early in the third quarter to open up a 53-38 lead with 7:09 to play in the quarter. Sondag drained back-to-back threes and Sarros hit a free throw to bring the Bears to within 53-45 with 5:19 left. After a basket by Thomas More, Martinez drove for a basket and Biewen got a putback to make it a six-point game with 4:05 left in the third. The Saints extended the lead back to nine, before Sondag hit another three with less than a minute in the quarter to make the score 62-56 heading into the final quarter.

Martinez and Sondag both hit threes in the opening 3:07 of the fourth quarter, but Thomas More's Abby Owings hit four three pointers to help the Saints extend the lead to 80-62 with 4:48 remaining. Sarros made a putback and freshman Claudia Smith hit a three from the baseline to cut the lead to 82-69, but Thomas More scored 10 of its final 12 points at the free-throw line to seal the win.

WashU shot 41.3 percent (26-63) from the field in the game, including 10-of-20 from three-point range. Thomas More shot 51.9 percent (28-54) from the field and 11-of-20 from beyond the arc. The Saints also finished 21-of-21 at the free-throw line, while WashU was 10-of-17. The Bears finished with a 34-31 rebounding advantage, including a 16-5 advantage on the offensive glass.

Bear Notebook: WashU is 3-2 all-time against Thomas More … WashU's Class of 2016 (Biewen, Alexandra Keane, Tori Knollmeyer, Martinez, Paige Naig, Thompson and Liz Yucknut) finished their careers with a 94-18 record … The Bears set a program single-season record with 546 three-point attempts for the season, and finished one shy of the single-season record for made threes … Biewen finished her career with 187 steals, which is tied for fourth on WashU's career leaderboard … In addition to tying the WashU career assists record, Thompson finished ninth in school history with 114 career three-pointers … Martinez had 87 steals this season, which is the third-highest single-season total in school history … Biewen's 70 steals this season ranks ninth on the single-season list.