March 5, 2010

Courtesy of Washington University Athletics

Crestview Hills, Ky., March 5, 2010 - Senior Zoë Unruh scored a career-high 31 points while sinking a career-best eight three-pointers to lead the No. 6 Washington University in St. Louis women's basketball team to an 81-67 victory over Maryville College (Tenn.) in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Championship on Friday, March 5, in Crestview Hills, Ky.

The 31 points for Unruh marked the most points in a single game for any Washington University player in over three years. The last Bear to eclipse 30 points in a game was Sarah Schell, who scored 32 against New York University on Jan. 28, 2007.

"What an incredible performance. Like I said to the team after the game, Zoë is someone who has been in the gym since her freshman year and you could almost tell since the minute that game started that she was focused in," Washington U. head coach Nancy Fahey said. "It was a special performance at a special time."

With the win, Washington University, who is making its NCAA-record 21st-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, improved to 50-18 all-time in NCAA action and the Bears are now 17-5 in NCAA openers having won eight first-round games in a row.

Unruh finished the game shooting 11-of-20 from the field and she was 8-of-12 from three-point range, falling just one rebound shy of a double-double. Since she scored 25 points with six three-pointers against Emory on Jan. 31, Unruh is shooting 50.8 percent (30-of-59) from three-point range.

"I hit my first couple of shots and once you do that it is always easier to hit the next couple," Unruh said. "They were over playing, which may seem like it makes it harder to get shots off, but actually I think it's easier to shoot when someone is pressing you than when you are wide open."

Washington U. trailed Maryville 43-41 at the half, marking the most points allowed by the Bears in a single half all season. The Scots used a 27-20 rebounding margin and a 24-12 advantage in points in the paint to take that lead into the break. It was just the fourth time this season the Red and Green trailed after 20 minutes of play.

Unruh almost singlehandedly kept Washington University in the game, scoring 20 of her points in the first period. She finished the half shooting 7-of-11 from the field and she was 6-of-7 from three-point range, which tied her previous career-high for made threes.

It was Unruh's third long-range basket fewer than five minutes into the game that marked the 1,000th point of her career, making her just the 11th player in school history to accomplish the feat, and the second in as many games for the Bears; graduate student Jaimie McFarlin scored career-point No. 1,000 against Chicago in the series finale on Feb. 27.

Maryville started the game shooting 6-of-10 from the field and took an early 13-12 lead on a Lailah Farmer lay-up at the 14:25 mark. Unruh's fourth three of the period lifted the Bears to a four-point lead, 17-13, but the Scots answered with a 10-2 run to turn the tables and grab a four-point lead of their own.

Senior Stacey Niese hit another three for the Bears to end the Maryville run and pull her team back within one, and senior Janice Evans grabbed an offensive board and went back up for a lay-up to tie the game at 30-30. Evans' lay-up began a 10-2 WUSTL run that ended with another Evans lay-in, this time with under four minutes to play, making the score 38-32 in favor of the Bears.

However, the seesaw affair continued down the stretch and Maryville scored 11 of the final 14 points of the half to bring a two-point lead into the locker room. Washington U. shot 45.7 percent from the field while holding Maryville to 40.5 percent shooting. The Bears also drained seven three-pointers compared to just two for the Scots, but Maryville held a 16-7 advantage in second-chance opportunities.

After Washington U. used a quick 7-3 run to regain the lead fewer than three minutes into the second half, the game took on a slower pace than it did during the first period. Neither team led by more than one possession until Paige Sevier made a pair of free-throw following a technical foul call McFarlin, which was also her fifth personal of the game.

Maryville did not maintain its lead for very long, with Washington U. scoring seven points over the next 46 seconds to take a two-point lead, and the Bears were up by five following a three-point play from Unruh with just under 7:30 to play in the game.

The technical foul permanently changed the momentum of the game, but not in favor of the Scots. After that point, Washington U. outscored Maryville 27-8 over the final 8:42 of action and never trailed once it regained the lead.

Evans also scored in double figures, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and like Unruh, also missed recording a double-double by one rebound. The Bears outscored Maryville 40-24 in the second half and limited the Scots to just six field goals and 19.4 percent shooting. Tayler Smith led Maryville with 14 points and Farmer and Sevier each chipped in 10.

Washington U. will continue NCAA Tournament action on Saturday, March 6, at 7 p.m. (ET), when it will face the winner of the other regional semifinal game between Fontbonne University and host Thomas More College, at 7 p.m.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. is now 3-0 all-time against Maryville College, with all three wins coming in the NCAA Tournament; the last meeting was in 1994 ... The Bears have now held 24-of-26 opponents to no better than 40 percent shooting ... Maryville's 67 points is the most Washington U. has given up in a single game this season.