ST. LOUIS – The No. 24-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women’s basketball team secured sole possession of the University Athletic Association (UAA) Title after topping Brandeis University 89-70 Sunday afternoon in the WU Field House.
WashU improved to 18-6 overall including 12-1 in UAA play while gaining the UAA automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Bears will advance to NCAA postseason play for the 30th consecutive season. Brandeis fell to 7-16 overall and 3-10 in UAA games.
WashU led in roughly every statistical category including rebounding (51-44), assists (17-11) and turnovers (7-19). The Bears outscored Brandeis 22-10 in points off turnovers and 32-18 in points in the paint.
Four Bears reached double figures in scoring as senior guard Rachael Sondag led the way with 20 points, including 14 points in the second quarter as WashU pulled away. Also reaching double figures were senior forward Stephanie Botkin (16), junior center Kristina Schmelter(12) and freshman forward Samantha Weaver (10). Schmelter recorded her first career double-double by also totaling a career-high 10 rebounds.
Schmelter provided a spark off the bench in the first quarter, hit 2-of-3 jumpers and a pair of free-throws for six points to help the Bears maintain an early lead. WashU entered the second quarter with a 20-19 advantage after both teams converted shots from the field at a low percentage.
Sondag hit several big shots in the second quarter. The Bears worked their way to a 47-35 lead heading into halftime as Sondag scored 14 points including three three-pointers in the second. A fastbreak layup by freshman Isabelle Hren pushed the Bears ahead by double digits keyed by a defensive rebound by Sondag.
Overall WashU outscored Brandeis 27-16 in the quarter. After hitting just 27.3 percent of the shots in the first quarter, WashU sank 10-of-20 shots in the second, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Botkin provided the offensive touch in the third quarter totaling 13 points in the 10 minute span. She scored the Bears first four points in the third and then hit a pair of threes in the middle of the quarter before senior Katie Claussnerclosed out the WashU scoring with back-to-back layups. The Bears led 73-48 heading into the final quarter.
Brandeis outscored WashU 22-16 in the fourth quarter as the Bears looked to slow the pace of the game. Sophomore guard Nicole Clark closed out the scoring by hitting a three-pointer as the shot clock wound down in the final minute of play.
Camila Casanueva of Brandeis led all scorers with 24 points while Lauren Robinson added 17 points off the bench for the Judges. Kerry Tanke secured 10 rebounds for Brandeis.
No. 23-ranked University of Chicago comes to St. Louis for the final regular season game of the year when WashU hosts the Central Region’s top ranked team Saturday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. in the WU Field House.