WashU Victorious in Defensive Midwest Challenge Opener

WashU Victorious in Defensive Midwest Challenge Opener

Bloomington, Ill., Nov. 26, 2016 – No. 9 Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball opened the Midwest Challenge with a 60-48 win over DePauw University on Saturday afternoon at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center.

The Bears improved to 4-0 while they handed DePauw (3-1) its first loss of the season in a game that saw the lead change seven times. WashU's defense held the Tigers to 29.6 percent from the floor to overcome a 42-34 discrepancy in rebounds. The Bears also outscored the Tigers in points off of turnovers, 19-10, while outscoring DePauw 20-10 in points in the paint.

The Bears fell behind early in the opening quarter but took an 8-7 lead when sophomore Madeline Homoly grabbed an offensive board and found an open Rachael Sondag who cut through the paint for an uncontested floater. Moments later a DePauw three-pointer gave the Tigers the lead but Sondag put WashU ahead with a three of her own. The Bears lead 11-10 after the first quarter of play.

Homoly helped the Bears to a 16-12 lead with a steal that led to a transition trey by junior Natalie Orr which was assisted by sophomore Becca Clark-Callender. Two free-throws from Steph Botkin and a Clark-Callender coast-to-coast layup stretched the Bear lead to 20-14. A corner three from Sondag on a Clark-Callender dish pushed the Bears ahead by nine with less than five minutes remaining in the half. The Tigers responded with a 6-2 run to tighten things up before Sondag beat the buzzer by mere seconds with her third triple of the half. Senior Zoe Vernon assisted on the play, helping WashU out to a 28-20 halftime lead.

DePauw worked its way to a 34-32 lead after utilizing a 14-4 run to start the third quarter. Following a WashU timeout, Clark-Callender answered the call with a dash through the lane for a contested two-point shot, evening the game at 34-all with two minutes left in the third. The Bears regained the lead on its next possession from multiple Jenn Dynis free throws; but the Tigers regained the lead with less than a minute left to play in the quarter on a three from the wing. With the clock winding down, Dynis answered with a swished shot from beyond the arc. The buzzer beater recaptured the lead for WashU, 39-37.

WashU quickly pushed its lead to six points when WashU opened the fourth with two quick baskets in less than a minute. Sondag hit a jumper on the first possession of the quarter and Homoly stole the ensuing inbound pass for a lay-in. Moments later Vernon set a new career-high in assists with her fifth of the night. Vernon found an open Sondag with a cross court pass, who sank the beyond the arc shot to give WashU a 48-39 advantage. Three free throws from Clark-Callender down the stretch helped the Bears close out the 60-48 win.

Sondag led the Bears in scoring with 16 points off the bench while Dynis (13) and Clark-Callender (11) exceeded double-figure totals too. Clark-Callender's 11 points off the bench were a career-high. Homoly's eight rebounds led WashU while Vernon's five assists were the most in the game for either team. Vernon also recorded a game-high three blocks. 

WashU will face the winner of the Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois College game in the Midwest Challenge Championship at 3 p.m. in Bloomington, Ill. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.