No. 22 WashU Battles No. 1 Thomas More to the End 

Photo by Joe Humphries
Photo by Joe Humphries

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Crestview Hills, Ky., March 9, 2019 – The No. 22-ranked Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter but could not hold on as No. 1 Thomas More University posted an 87-72 victory in the 2019 NCAA Division III Sectional Final Saturday in Crestview Hills, Ky.

Thomas More outscored WashU 31-15 in the fourth quarter, as senior All-American Madison Temple had 18 of her 36 points in the final frame. Temple also added nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals and was 15-of-17 from the foul line.

Thomas More improved to 31-0 with the win and extended its all-NCAA Divisions longest winning streak to 31 games, while WashU ended its season with a 22-7 overall mark.

"Today's game was against a great team. We battled them for three of the four quarters," said WashU head coach Randi Henderson. "I reminded them at half you have to take the right shots and be confident and they did." 

Senior forward Madeline Homoly tied a season-high with 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, while senior guard Rachael Sondag added 16 points and senior guard Becca Clark-Callender had 12 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

WashU shot 42.9 percent (27-63) from the field and hit 11 three-pointers in the loss. The Bears outrebounded Thomas More 35-28, but the Saints had a 20-5 advantage in points off turnovers.  

WashU started slow for the second-straight contest missing its first five shots from the field and trailed 6-0. A three-pointer from the wing by Clark-Callender trimmed the advantage to 11-7, but a three from Temple made it 14-7. Temple had nine of the first 14 points for the Saints.

The Bears shot just 28.6 percent (4-14) from the field in the opening quarter and trailed 22-11. Homoly led the Bears with six points.

Thomas More scored the first five points of the second quarter to extend the run to 9-0 and take a commanding 27-11 lead. WashU answered back with an 8-0 run of its own on a pair of buckets by Sondag to trim the lead to 27-19.

A wing three by Clark-Callender trimmed the advantage to eight, and then Sondag drilled a three just before half to cap a 7-2 run and cut the lead to 37-32. WashU outscored Thomas More 21-15 in the second quarter and shot 52.9 percent (7-19) from the field. Homoly led all scorers with 15 points in the first half. 

"I think one thing we learned from playing in the UAA is you are never out of it," said Clark-Callender. "Our team was built to play in games like this."

WashU hit three-straight threes to open the third quarter and gained its first lead of the game at 41-39 on a triple from Clark-Callender. Botkin scored eight-straight points, including two threes, as the Bears continued to lead 49-47. WashU took the 58-57 advantage to the final 10 minutes after shooting 56.3 percent (9-16) in the third quarter.

Sondag's three with 8:14 to play made it 62-60, but the Saints answered with a 10-0 run gain the commanding 70-62 advantage. Homoly hit a bucket and then Clark-Callender drilled a three to get the lead down to three, but that is as close as WashU would get.

Shelby Rupp added 18 points and seven boards for Thomas More, who shot 54.4 percent (31-57) from the field and hit 21-of-24 from the free-throw line. Thomas More takes on No. 9 Scranton in the NCAA Division III Semifinals on Friday, March 15, in Salem, Va.

WashU's senior class of Caroline Ballard, Botkin, Clark-Callender, Katie Claussner, Homoly and Sondag led the Red & Green to an 90-24 (.789) overall record with three University Athletic Association (UAA) Titles and four trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears compiled a 10-4 mark in postseason play, advancing to the NCAA Elite 8 three times.

"We have been through a lot in two years, and hope they have learned as much as I have learned from them," Henderson added. "Our seniors were strong willed, determined and willing to grow."

BEAR NOTEBOOK: WashU and Thomas More have split six all-time meetings … The Bears won 17 of their last 19 games after starting the season 5-5 … WashU is 10-4 all-time in Sectional Finals … Homoly had 1,362 career points, sixth most in school history … Sondag had a school record 220 three-pointers … Clark-Callender's 373 assists were fourth most in school history.