Ballard & Homoly Trigger Bears to NCAA Second Round

Photo by Danny Reise/WUSTL Photos
Photo by Danny Reise/WUSTL Photos
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St. Louis, Mo., March 1, 2019 – The No. 22-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament Second Round by defeating University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 72-56 in the WU Field House Friday evening to earn its 20th win of the season in front of a raucous crowd.

WashU improved to 20-6 on the season, reaching 20 wins for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons and the 28th time overall. The Bears also improved to 73-27 all-time in NCAA postseason play while dropping the Warhawks to 18-10 on the year.

"That was a very tough team," explained head coach Randi Henderson. "At halftime we discussed how they were going to make a run. I knew that there was potentially a press coming and we strived to stay locked in to the stuff that got us to that situation and understanding that everyone will go on runs."

Senior guard Caroline Ballard and senior forward Madeline Homoly led WashU with 19 points apiece as Ballard hit five three-pointers. WashU outshot UW-Whitewater 44.8 percent (26-58) to 30.8 percent (20-65).

"I was able to get two really good looks at the basket and luckily they went in," replied Ballard who hit a series of big shots in the second half after the Warhawks closed the gap. "I think that was a big momentum shift for the team after that because we kind of pulled away again."

WashU outrebounded UW-Whitewater 45-36 as Homoly led all players with 11 on the night for a double-double.

"Rebounds are one of the things that you can control and I always try to focus on," said Homoly who tallied four offensive boards. "When I'm not making shots or the team is kind of in a lull offensive rebounds can be a momentum changer as well."

WashU held UW-Whitewater to 1-for-11 shooting from the field in the first six minutes of the opening quarter while taking a 13-2 lead. The Warhawks connected on a triple to cut the Bears advantage to single digits but senior guard Rachael Sondag converted a pair of free-throws to push the Bears back ahead by 10. The Red & Green led 20-9 after one quarter of play as senior forward Stephanie Botkin and Ballard had five points apiece.

The Bears continued to pressure the Warhawks in the second quarter and ran out to a 9-0 run in three minutes of action. Homoly had five of WashU's points on that run. The Red & Green twice stretched their lead to 20 points including a second chance three-pointer by Ballard which was keyed by an offensive rebound by Homoly.

Ballard sank another triple with 2:43 left to go which gave WashU a 40-17 advantage. The Warhawks went on a 9-4 run before Botkin hit a corner three as the Bears led 47-26 at the half. Homoly led WashU with 13 points at the break while Ballard totaled 11. UW-Whitewater was held to 28.1 percent shooting from the field (9-32).

UW-Whitewater closed the gap in the third quarter pulling within 11 points with a 15-5 run but Ballard drained a pair of big three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. The second triple was sunk with 2:10 left in the third as the Bears led 58-44. WashU stretched its lead to 60-44 on a layup by Homoly to end the quarter.

The Warhawks once again used a run in the opening minutes of the quarter to pull closer. UW-Whitewater scored an 8-4 run to pull within 12 points before a media timeout. The Bears responded with a 6-2 run of its own to close out the 72-56 victory.

Sondag also reached double figures in scoring with 10 points for the Bears while UW-Whitewater's Becky Raeder led the game with 20 points. Olivia Freckmann also reached double digits with 15 points for the Warhawks.

WashU advances onto the NCAA Second Round against No. 8 George Fox, who defeated Greenville University 85-53 in the WU Field House. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.