Recap | Box Score
WBSK: WASHINGTON-STL 59, GEORGE FOX 52 - Bruins Denied Another Title Shot by Bears
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Dreams of a second straight national title for George Fox University were dashed by the last team to win consecutive crowns as the Washington University-St. Louis Bears rallied in the second half to deny the Bruins 59-52 in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball National Tournament Sectional Saturday night here at the WU Field House.
In a rematch of the 2009 championship game in Holland, Mich., won by the Bruins 60-53 over the Bears, Sixth-ranked Washington used superior second-half shooting to rally from a five-point deficit early in the second half to defeat 5th-ranked George Fox and earn its ninth Final Four appearance and third in the last four seasons.
Washington opened the game on a 9-0 run and had four different
players score over that span. Alex Hoover drained the first bucket
of the game, a three-pointer to give WU a 3-0 lead, and it was 5-0
following a jumper from graduate student Jaimie McFarlin.
Freshman center Hannah Munger hit a lay-up for George Fox at the 15:47 mark to end the Bruins’ scoreless drought and sparked what turned into an 11-0 George Fox run. Washington did not hit a field goal for a stretch of 4:06 until Claire Schaeperkoetter came off the bench to drain a three-pointer that put the Bears up by one, 12-11, with 11:57 left.
Schaeperkoetter went on to hit three threes in a three-minute span, her last pushing the Washington lead to 20-16. However, from that point forward the WU offense went cold and the Bears hit just one field goal over the final 8:57 of the first half, going 1-for-14 from the field during that period and turning the ball over four times. George Fox ended the half on an 11-4 run, a lay-up by Keisha Gordon giving the Bruins a 25-24 lead and a Munger lay-up with a minute remaining putting the Bruins up 27-24 at the break.
A lay-up by B.B. Gardner with 18:15 left in the game gave the
Bruins their largest lead of 29-24 before the Bears got
going. Zoe Unruh’s first three of the game came at the
17:09 mark of the second half, ending a WU field goal drought that
began in the first half, and the score was tied at 29-29 when Alex
Hoover found Janice Evans for an open 10-foot baseline
Neither team led by more than one possession thereafter until Washington built a four-point lead with 8:10 to play. McFarlin found Evans under the basket for an easy lay-in to make the score 39-37 with 9:24 left, giving the Bears the lead for good, and Schaeperkoetter was fouled on a three-point attempt, converting 2-of-3 free-throws, to put her team up by four at 41-37.
A pair of Munger free-throws pulled George Fox back within two, but the Bears responded with a 7-0 run that allowed them to steadily put the game out of reach. An Unruh three made the score 44-39, and a 12-foot jumper from Kathryn Berger gave the Bears a seven-point lead of 46-39 with 6:17 showing.
Gordon drained her third three to end the Bears’ scoring run and cut the deficit to four with 5:53 left, but the Bruins would get no closer. Schaeperkoetter responded with her career-high fourth three-pointer on Washington’s next possession, and the lead was back to nine following a McFarlin jumper that made it 51-42 with 4:49 to go. The remainder of the game was mostly a swap of baskets.
“Hats off to Washington University; they shot the ball well in the second half,” said George Fox head coach Scott Rueck. “We could not get comfortable and we just did not shoot the ball well tonight.”
Indeed, the Bruins struggled with a .296 second-half shooting mark (8-27) while the Bears were a more robust .452 (14-31) from the field in the final 20 minutes, a significant factor in their comeback. The final percentages were not dramatically different overall, George Fox at .339 (19-56) and Washington at .377 (23-61), but the big difference was in three-point shooting; the Bruins were only 3-of-21 (.143) while the Bears were a solid 8-of-18 (.444).
Munger led the Bruins with her fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season, scoring a game-high 17 points with 11 rebounds. She also had two blocked shots, giving her 107 for the season, the second-most in a season to Kristen Shielee’s 122 last year. Gordon and Elise Kuenzi chipped in with 11 apiece, and Breezy Rinehart-Young supplied all the Bruins’ bench points with seven, hitting all three of her shots plus a free throw. Gordon, Gardner, and Carrie Myers had three assists each, Gardner’s number giving her 279 for her career, the fifth-most in Bruin history.
Schaeperkoetter came off the bench to lead Washington with a career-high 16 points, while Janice Evans and Unruh each scored 13. McFarlin had a team-high 11 rebounds and added eight points. Unruh passed out six assists, and Hoover and Bethany Morrison had five apiece. McFarlin and Hoover also blocked three shots.
George Fox had its 24-game winning streak snapped, the second-longest in school history, and ended its season with a 28-3 record after appearing in its third “Elite 8” round. Washington, which won four straight national titles from 1998-2001, is now 27-2 and will play No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Amherst College on Friday, March 19, at the Shirk Center in Bloomington, Ill., in one semifinal game. Washington defeated Amherst 65-49 in last year’s national semifinal. The other semifinal will match the University of Rochester and Hope College, but game times have yet to be announced.