Bloomington, Ill., Nov. 27, 2016 – No. 9 Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball won its third consecutive Midwest Challenge Championship Sunday evening with an 87-86 victory over tournament host Illinois Wesleyan in the Shirk Center.
WashU improved to 5-0 on the season with the win, while Illinois Wesleyan fell to 2-3. The Bears outscored the Titans 42-32 in the paint while almost doubling IWU's rebounding total (51-27). The Bears shot 50 percent from the floor (32-of-64).
Senior Zoe Vernon scored the game's first basket but IWU scored the next nine points. Vernon helped close the gap to three points with another layup as WashU trailed 11-8 with 4:08 to go in the opening quarter. The Titans closed the quarter with eight of the next 12 points and held a 19-12 advantage after one quarter of play.
Moments later senior Jenn Dynis hit a free throw to tie things up at 24 with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter before giving the Bears the lead seconds later. She converted an off balance put back on a Bears missed shot, which gave WashU a 26-24 lead. The Titans recaptured the lead with four minutes remaining and held a 36-34 advantage at halftime.
Minutes into the second half Sarros tied the score at 44-44 before a coast-to-coast basket from Clark-Callender gave the Bears the lead. The Titans sank a jumper to tie it back up but junior Natalie Orr's three-point play the hard way put WashU ahead 49-46 with 5:40 to go in the third. Back-to-back three pointers from sophomore Rachael Sondag increased WashU's lead to 57-50. WashU was ahead 65-56 after three quarters as Dynis led all scorers with seven points in the third frame.
WashU scored the first five points of the final quarter highlighted by an-and-one basket from Dynis on a dish from Clark-Callender. The Titans responded with the next nine points to pull within five until Orr stopped the IWU run with a fast break layup and free throw, to put WashU ahead 73-65. IWU continued to chip away as the majority of points came from the free throw line down the stretch as both teams exceeded the foul limit.
Vernon's free throw with eight second left put the Bears ahead by three points, 87-84 and proved to be the difference after IWU managed a layup for the final score of 87-86.
Dynis (18), Sarros (16) and Orr (13) exceeded double-figures in points while Homoly and Vernon contributed nine apiece. One day removed from setting a career-high in points Clark-Callender set a new personal best with seven assists to lead the team.
WashU remains on the road for its next non-conference game against University of Wisconsin-Platteville on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.