No. 10 WashU Captures 4th Straight Midwest Challenge Title

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

Greencastle, Ind., Nov. 26, 2017 – The No. 10-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team defeated No. 15-ranked and 2017 Midwest Challenge tournament host DePauw University 77-75 Sunday evening in the Neal Fieldhouse as junior Rachael Sondag sank a three-pointer in the final seconds of action.

WashU improved to 3-1 while handing DePauw (4-1) its first loss of the season. The Bears and Tigers have met 29 times all-time in program history and the Bears hold a 21-8 edge. WashU has won four consecutive Midwest Challenge Championships and 15 overall in the 25 years of competition that pits DePauw, Illinois Wesleyan University and WashU against each other in a yearly tournament.

Sophomore Kristina Schmelter finished with a team-high 17 points while shooting eight-of-nine from the field. She was joined in double-figures by junior Stephanie Botkin (13), Sondag (12), senior Natalie Orr (11) and junior Becca Clark-Callender (10). Junior Madeline Homoly added eight points with a team-high eight rebounds.

WashU shot 59.6-percent from the field (31-of-52), which included 52.9-percent from beyond the arc (9-of-17). Despite being outrebounded 34-25 the Bears outscored DePauw 40-32 in the paint while holding the Tigers to 41.2-percent shooting from the floor (28-of-68). WashU also finished with more assists (16-9) and blocks (5-1) than DePauw.

The first half had several lead changes as WashU and DePauw were knotted up at 41-all at the end of the second quarter. The Tigers built a six-point lead in the second quarter, 37-31, but the Bears closed out the final four minutes of the half on a 10-4 run.

Senior Natalie Orr drained a three-pointer from the wing on a dish by senior Shelby Mann to cut the DePauw lead to two points, 39-37. Back-to-back layups in the paint by junior Madeline Homoly and Schmelter put the Bears ahead momentarily before a jumper DePauw's Maya Howard tied the score at 41-41.

WashU had a dominant third quarter which gave the Bears an eight-point edge heading into the final quarter of play. The Red & Green outscored DePauw 23-15 during the third quarter which included three-pointers by Orr and Clark-Callender. Mann also converted consecutive layups in the final minute of the third quarter which kept WashU ahead 64-56.

DePauw erased the Bears eight-point edge within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 64-64. A three-pointer by Sondag gave the Bears the lead for the next two minutes until WashU and DePauw traded leads seven times in the final three minutes of play. Sondag hit three triples down the stretch to put the Bears ahead including the final converted shot of the game with two seconds remaining.

The leading scorers for the Tigers were Claire Keefe (22), Howard (18) and junior Emily Budde (10). Howard added four assists and three steals while shooting 53.3-percent from the court (8-of-15).

WashU improved to 2-0 on the year against nationally ranked opponents as the Bears picked up both victories over the weekend at the Midwest Challenge.The Red & Green picked up the 800th victory in program history and boast an 800-196 (.803) all-time record in school history.

The Red & Green home opener is Friday, Dec. 1 against Oglethorpe at 7 p.m. in the 17th Annual McWilliams Classic. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.