Waverly, Iowa, Dec. 30, 2016 – The No. 6 ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball program put its undefeated record on the line with a matchup against the No. 8 ranked Wartburg College Knights on Friday afternoon and remained unbeaten with an 87-84 win during the AmericInn Holiday Tournament Championship.
WashU improved its record to 10-0 on the season, while handing the previously unbeaten Knights their first loss and dropping their record to 11-1. The Bears and Knights both finished the game shooting better than 50 percent from the floor but a season-high percentage of 58.6 percent from the field propelled WashU to the win.
Sophomore Madeline Homoly was named the AmericInn Holiday Tournament Most Valuable Player after leading the Bears with a career-best 30 points in the championship game. Senior Zoe Vernon was also named to the All-Tournament team after heating up down the stretch for the Bears scoring all 17 of her points in the second half.
The Bears entered the fourth quarter trailing 66-59 but scored the first seven points of the quarter to even the game at 66-all. Sophomore Stephanie Botkin had a lay in immediately to start the quarter before Homoly sank a jumper and sophomore Becca Clark-Callender nailed a three ball to tie the game.
Less than a minute after Clark-Callender's equalizer, she assisted on a three pointer by Vernon in the corner which put the Bears ahead for the first time since the second quarter. Vernon added to that lead when she converted an inbound pass from Botkin underneath the basket with seven minutes remaining.
Wartburg answered the layup with one of its own before Vernon's three swooshed through the net for the largest Bears lead of the second half, 74-70. The Knights responded with five unanswered points to take the lead with five minutes left until senior Jenn Dynis evened the score at 76-all.
Vernon scored the next five points for the Bears but Wartburg took an 83-81 lead on a three pointer from the wing with 82 seconds left to play in regulation.
Dynis answered the call with a game tying shot from inside the paint. Following a Wartburg free-throw, Dynis once again answered the call with a layup with less than 20 second remaining to give WashU a slim 85-84 advantage. The Bears defense came up with a big stop while forcing the Knights to turn the ball over before Homoly sank multiple free throws to close out the scoring en route to clinching an 87-84 win for the Bears.
Homoly dominated the first half of play with 18 points scored and got things started right away from the opening defensive stance with a steal. She began the game with multiple steals, a defensive rebound and the first four points of action as WashU jumped out to an early lead within the first two minutes of play. However, the Knights fought back to take a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bears and Knights had four lead changes occur within the first two minutes of the second quarter including a step back three pointer from sophomore Rachael Sondag, which gave WashU a 16-14 advantage. Homoly led the Bears scoring in the first through third quarters but Vernon closed the game out with 12 during the fourth to help push the Bears past the Knights.
Dynis added 13 points for WashU while Homoly led the Bears in multiple categories including points (30), rebounds (nine), steals (four) and free throws made and attempted (six of nine). Clark-Callender had a team leading four assists as the Bears outpaced the Knights with 23 collectively as a team compared to 16 for Wartburg.
The Bears hit the road on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. for their first University Athletic Association (UAA) play of the season against University of Chicago. WashU returns home to make up a previously postponed nonconference game against Millikin University on Monday, Jan. 9 at 2:30 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.