St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 25, 2017 – The No. 7-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team erased a 13-point third quarter deficit to overcome University of Chicago 77-75 Saturday afternoon for the 2017 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship during WashU senior and alumnae day at the WU Field House.
WashU improved to 23-2 overall and 12-2 within the UAA while Chicago finished the regular season 18-7 with an 11-3 UAA mark. The Bears and Maroons have combined for nine of the last 10 UAA titles, while WashU head coach Nancy Fahey secured the 23rd conference championship in her 31 seasons on the Bears sideline.
The Bears earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament with the 798th victory in program history. WashU extended its winning streak to 11 games while snapping a two game losing streak to Chicago.
Trailing 67-59 with 1:53 remaining in the game, WashU began to chip away at the eight-point deficit starting with a three ball by sophomore Rachael Sondag. The two teams traded 1-for-2 trips to the free throw line before the Maroons extended their lead to nine with 47 seconds left, leading 72-63.
Fahey called for a timeout after Chicago's Mia Farrell put the Maroons ahead by nine. Senior Zoe Vernon was fouled prior to the inbound pass and sank two free throws to cut the deficit to seven.
A single free throw was made by Chicago before Vernon drove down the entire court to convert a layup. The Bears fouled a single second after the pass to preserve precious seconds. The Maroons missed both free throw attempts with senior Ereka Hunt grabbing the defensive rebound.
Seconds later Hunt hit a three-pointer that brought the Bears within three with 31 seconds remaining. A second straight 0-for-2 trip to the free throw line gave WashU hope with 24 seconds remaining.
Orr snagged the defensive rebound following the second miss and successfully converted both attempts from the charity stripe to bring the Bears within one, 73-72. WashU once again fouled, but Chicago's Miranda Burt made both attempts to get the lead back to three.
WashU raced up the court looking for a quick shot attempt, but seconds were ticking off prior to another triple by Hunt to tie the game. Chicago turned the ball over with seven seconds remaining and Orr closed the game out with a running jumper for the 77-75 victory.
The Maroons opened the second quarter on an 8-4 run but WashU began to cut the lead down when sophomore Madeline Homoly drove down the lane for a lay-in while getting fouled. Moments later, two free throws from Sondag brought the score within 29-25.
The Maroons scored six of the next seven points and held a 35-26 halftime lead. Chicago finished the half with 11 offensive rebounds and scored 15 second-chance points while outrebounding the Bears 22-14.
In the third quarter, Chicago expanded its lead to 13 points before Orr hit a shot from beyond the arc and Homoly made two free throws. Moments later Sarros found Vernon in the corner for a three-pointer which was followed by a baseline jumper from Orr to bring WashU within five, 45-40, with a little more than three minutes to play in the third.
The Bears worked their way to the lead prior to the end of the third. Sophomore Becca Clark-Callender drilled a shot from beyond the arc after a drive and dish from Homoly which combined with a Vernon triple from the opposite corner gave the Bears a 46-45 lead.
However, the Maroons answered back with four-straight free throws to take a three-point advantage. Chicago ended the third with a 54-50 lead heading into the final quarter. The Bears outscored Chicago 24-19 in the quarter to pull within four. Homoly and Vernon led WashU with six points apiece in the quarter.
WashU overcame the Maroons lead by outscoring Chicago 27-21 in the fourth quarter. Three Bears reached double figures in scoring: Homoly (21), Vernon (16) and Orr (10). Homoly has reached double figures in each of WashU's games during the 11-game win streak.
Sondag made 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and increased her season total to 49 triples on the season, which ranks 10th all-time in school history. She surpassed Sara Ettner's 48 three-pointers from the 2000-01 season.
Next on the schedule for WashU is the NCAA selection show on Monday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. (CT). Fans may watch the selection show by clicking HERE. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.