No. 10 WashU Advances to Midwest Challenge Championship

Photo by WUSTL Photos/Danny Reise
Photo by WUSTL Photos/Danny Reise

St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 25, 2017 – The No. 10-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team defeated No. 25-Illinois Wesleyan University in the opening game of the Midwest Challenge 89-81 Saturday afternoon in Greencastle, Ind.

WashU improved to 2-1 while Illinois Wesleyan dropped to 2-2 on the year. The Bears advanced to the Midwest Challenge Championship for the fifth straight year. WashU will play the winner of tournament host and No. 15-ranked DePauw University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on Sunday at 4 p.m. (ET).

Junior Madeline Homoly finished with a season-high 29 points on nine-of-15 shooting from the field and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. Sophomore Kristina Schmelter posted a career-high 19 points off the bench while junior Becca Clark-Callender ended the game with a personal-best eight assists.

The Bears finished with a 52.7-percent shooting percentage compared to Illinois Wesleyan's 38.9-percent while WashU also totaled 23 assists ahead of the Titans 14. The Bears and Titans combined for 56 trips to the free-throw line as WashU sank 25-of-32.

Juniors Rachael Sondag and Stephanie Botkin also scored 12 points apiece. Sondag was four-of-six from beyond the arc in 22 minutes of action.

Botkin knotted the game up at 21-all after collecting an offensive rebound before another basket and free-throw by junior Caroline Ballard put the Bears ahead 24-21 after the first quarter of play.

The Bears added to their lead in the second quarter by outscoring the Titans 23-20 to lead 47-41 at the half. Homoly and Schmelter combined for 27 points in the opening half of play.

Illinois Wesleyan mounted a comeback in the third quarter and took a 60-59 lead on a three-pointer by Kelsey Walsberg. Walsberg sunk another triple moments later and the Titans led 65-62 with a minute to go. A three-point play from Schmelter in the final seconds gave the Bears a 66-65 lead at the conclusion of the third quarter. 

WashU and Illinois Wesleyan traded leads back and forth in the fourth quarter prior to a triple by Sondag put the Bears ahead for good at 73-71 with six minutes remaining. The trey sparked a 19-10 run for WashU leading to an 89-81 victory.

With the victory WashU improved to 21-5 all-time against Illinois Wesleyan. The Bears will attempt to earn their 15th Midwest Challenge Championship title in 25 years of the tournament. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.