Crestview Hllls, Ky., March 8, 2019 – The No. 22-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team put together its top defensive effort of the season in a 63-46 victory over No. 12 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the 2019 NCAA Division III Sectional Semifinal Friday in Crestview Hills, Ky.
WashU (22-6) limited Mary Hardin-Baylor to 29.8 percent (17-57) shooting from the field and a season-low point total. The Bears also forced 17 turnovers.
WashU, who advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 14th time in school history, takes on No. 1 Thomas More Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (ET) for a berth in the NCAA Division III Semifinals.
"We locked in defensively and that was the difference," said WashU head coach Randi Henderson. "The women are buying into playing defense and are frustrating other teams in what they do.
Offensively we were not in the best rhythm and not flowing very well in the first half, but we locked in defensively and did what we needed to do."
Junior forward Kristina Schmelter led the Bears with 14 points off the bench, while senior forward Madeline Homoly had 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior guards Katie Claussner and Rachael Sondag and freshman forward Samantha Weaver added eight points apiece. WashU's bench outscored UHMB 34-18.
WashU shot 39.0 percent (23-59) from the field in the win, including 50.0 percent (12-of-24) in the second half. The Bears outrebounded UHMB 41-40 and had a 17-1 advantage in points off turnovers.
WashU started slow hitting just 4-of-17 from the field, including 0-for-6 from three, in the opening quarter but only trailed 15-12. Homoly had six points on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting to lead the Bears.
Weaver came off the bench and had a steal and lay-up and then another driving bucket to put WashU up 16-15 with 7:11 left before half. WashU's defense limited Mary Hardin-Baylor without a bucket for 6:30, and the Crusaders missed their six shots from the field in the second quarter.
Senior guard Caroline Ballard drilled a three-pointer from the right wing to cap a 9-0 run as WashU's lead grew to 25-17 with 1:22 to play.
WashU took a 27-20 lead to half as the Bears limited Mary Hardin-Baylor to 26.7 percent (8-30) shooting from the field. Schmelter had eight points off the bench to lead WashU. The Bears had an 11-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Bears outscored the Crusaders 24-10 in the third quarter, which included a 20-5 run. Senior forward Stephanie Botkin nailed a corner three to open the run, and then a pair of threes from Sondag made it 41-25. WashU shot 61.5 percent (8-13) in the quarter.
"They know how to really get the energy up for sure," said Homoly. "We were not hitting shots in the first half and we told them to keep shooting and know they would start falling. There is no way to no get excited with those threes."
WashU took its largest lead at 63-40 with 9:27 to play after a bucket by Botkin.
Alicia Blackwell led UHMB (27-4) with eight points and seven rebounds. The Crusaders hit just 4-of-17 from three-point range and 8-of-15 from the foul line.
BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU and Mary Hardin-Baylor met for the first time in school history … The Bears were making their 19th trip to the NCAA Sectional Semifinal, while UHMB was in for the first time … WashU recorded its Division III-record 75th career NCAA Tournament victory … The Bears are 6-2 all-time at the Conner Center on the campus of Thomas More … The victory for the senior class was its 90th.