BEREA, Ohio - Junior forward Sydney Diedrich (Chardon/Gilmour Academy) sank a game-winning three-pointer to lift the No. 9 nationally-ranked Baldwin Wallace University women's basketball team to a 60-58 victory over No. 18 University of Chicago (Ill.) in the NCAA Tournament Second Round in Ursprung Gymnasium.
With the win, BW (28-2) advanced to its first NCAA "Sweet 16" since the 2013-14 season and its fifth overall in program history. The Yellow Jackets also tied their single-season program record for wins with 28, which was set roughly 20 years ago during the 1999-2000 campaign. In its first ever matchup against one another, Chicago (21-6) became another one of BW's victims in Berea, as the Yellow Jackets completed a perfect home slate on the year and improved to an astonishing 17-0. BW also extended its season-long win streak to 14 games. Following the conclusion of today's NCAA Tournament Second Round action, the Yellow Jackets' next opponent will be the lone remaining undefeated team in all of NCAA Division III women's basketball, and the No. 1 nationally-ranked Hope (Mich.) College.
The BW offense was led by three scorers in double-figures. Sophomore All-OAC forward Lilly Edwards (Dublin/Coffman) collected her first double-double of the season and her first since last season's NCAA Tournament First Round, as she collected team-highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Senior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC guard Riley Schill (Sheffield Village/Elyria Catholic) accumulated in 12 points, six boards, five assists, and two steals. Sophomore Megan Hensel (Upper Sandusky) also added to the Yellow Jackets' valuable bench contributions, scoring 10 points and adding eight rebounds in the win.
The Maroons' attack was spearheaded by senior forward Taylor Lake and freshman guard Grace Hynes, Chicago's lone scorers in double-digits. Lake notched a game-high 22 points, in addition to eight rebounds, and a team-high four assists. Meanwhile, Hynes garnered 18 points, a game-high 12 boards, and two steals.
Despite being the road team, Chicago did not let the rouwy BW home crowd alter its play to start the game. After surrendering the game's opening basket, the Maroons were able to score 10 straight points to jump ahead out of the gate. However, BW responded with a 7-2 run to get to cut the early deficit to three. The Yellow Jackets had a rough opening quarter shooting the ball as they garnered a mere 22.2 rate from the field and went 0-5 from deep.
The second quarter involved a consistent exchange of offense, as both teams failed to generate runs that exceeded more than six points. The Yellow Jackets finally drained their first three-pointer of the game at the 9:05 mark, courtesy of Hensel. Although there were no clear-cut momentum swings for either team in the frame, BW was able to chip away at the Chicago lead, outscoring the Maroons by four and remaining within striking distance headed to the break.
The third quarter resembled much like the second as both teams jabbed at one another with small, but effective blows. Roughly midway through the period, the Maroons were able to increase their lead with a 6-0 run, but yet again the Yellow Jackets struck back with a 6-0 run of their own. Reluctant to let its precious lead slip away, Chicago was able to stave off BW by answering every allowed point with the same on the other end. With both teams collecting 16 points apiece for the frame, the seesaw battle set the stage for classic finish.
With the game coming down to the wire and both adversaries' seasons on the line, it was the Yellow Jackets that struck first in the final quarter. At the 7:20 mark, junior guard Gabby Garrett (Columbus/Bishop Watterson) drained a crucial three-pointer for BW, giving the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the entire game. Unphased, the Maroons strung together seven straight points to regain a six-point cushion with 5:46 to go. Regardless, BW would not be discouraged as they remained determined to find the equalizer as time dwindled down. Facing a four-point deficit with 1:22 remainin, Fecht was able to knock down a three-pointer to get within one. The Yellow Jackets then got consecutive defensive stops to set up some late game heroics. With just 16 seconds remaining in regulation, BW's Diedrich put up a contested three-point shot that banked in to give the Yellow Jackets a two-point lead. On the ensuing possession, Chicago missed a game-tying layup but got the ball back after a BW turnover with six seconds left on the clock. The Maroons' last chance to extend the game was halted by an active Yellow Jackets defense that cased a turnover and secured a berth to the Sweet Sixteen.
BW returns to the court on Friday, March 13 when they face Hope at a to-be-determined location and time.