The Washington University/St. Louis women’s basketball team returned to the top of NCAA Division III women’s basketball, winning a record fifth national championship with a 65-59 victory over No. 4 Hope College on Saturday, in Bloomington, IL.
Washington University has now won a Division III record five national championships, including a string of four-straight titles from 1998-01. Washington U., who was appearing in its Division III record 21st-NCAA Tournament and record ninth Final Four, also advanced to the NCAA championship game in 2007 and 2009.
“Once you are fortunate enough to experience a championship, and then to wait nine years for another, you realize how hard, how special, how much you have to have a little luck, how fortunate you are to have that magical chemistry,” head coach Nancy Fahey said.
Jaimie McFarlin scored 14 points with a season-high 15 rebounds in the championship win while Unruh tallied 13 points. McFarlin earned NCAA Championship all-tournament honors for the third time in her career, tying Washington University Sports Hall of Famers Alia Fischer and Tasha Rodgers for the most NCAA Final Four honors in school history. With her 15 boards, McFarlin eclipsed 1,000 career rebounds and ends her career as the Washington U. all-time rebounding leader with 1,013. She finished the NCAA Tournament averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and 11 rebounds per game and posted a double-double in both of the Bears’ Final Four games.
Junior guard Alex Hoover who led the team in scoring during its national championship win. Hoover scored a career-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. She was the most clutch down the stretch, scoring 14 of her points in the second half and shooting 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Neither team led by more than two points through nearly the first 13 minutes of the game until the 2010 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year Carrie Snikkers hit a three-pointer at the 7:20 mark to lift Hope to a 15-12 lead.
The two teams combined to miss their first 11 shot attempts from three-point range Snikkers hit her shot and Hope was just 3-of-18 from the field at that point.
The Bears answered with a 6-0 run to take a three-point lead. Wash. U went into the half with a four-point lead after holding Hope to 19.4 percent shooting (6-of-31) in the first half. Hope hit just two field goals over the final 7:20 of the period.
Hope started strong in the second half, hitting three of its first four shots during a 7-2 run that ended with the Flying Dutch ahead, 27-26. The Bears then went on a burst over the next five minutes to open up a 40-33 lead with 11:27 to go. Hope battled to make it a one-possession game with six minutes to play, but Wash. U. was clutch from the free-throw line, keeping Hope from pulling any closer than four points over the last 3:30 of the game; the Bears were 15-of-16 from the line from that point on.