DUBUQUE, Iowa – In the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Trine University women’s basketball team defeated Washington University out of St. Louis, Missouri 79-69. The Thunder took an early lead and overcame a quality third quarter by their opponents to move on in the postseason.

It is the 22nd win of the season for Trine as they continue on in the NCAA Tournament with a 22-6 record. The Bears of WashU end their year at 17-9.

“I’m really proud of my team, we really battled and that’s a really good WashU team,” head coach Andy Rang said in the postgame media conference. “We’re excited about moving on.”

Senior guard Makayla Ardis was the catalyst on both ends of the floor and neared a triple-double on the evening. Ardis played 37 minutes and neared a triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. The offense flowed best when running through the upperclassmen on the night, “The first three gave me a lot of confidence and I continued to look to score and make plays,” Ardis remarked.

On the first possession of the game, Ardis was true from beyond the arc to give the team a good start. Senior guard Alyssa Argyle followed that up with a trifecta of her own while sophomore guard Katie Tate and senior forward Katie Sloneker completed a 10-3 run to open the game.

The lead was extended to double digits at 17-7 thanks to a pair of baskets by Ardis and a driving layup from Tate. Freshman forward Abby Sanner scored on a post touch to go into the first media timeout ahead 19-9.

The remaining 3:44 of the first quarter would be a dogfight defensively as neither team was able to get more than one field goal. Trine led at the break 21-12.

The largest lead of the contest came early in the second period when the Thunder buried WashU on the fast break. Sophomore guard Sidney Wagner converted an and-one to start the second while Ardis and Wagner were unstoppable in transition to make it 28-15 at the media timeout.

The break in action was useful for WashU as they held Trine to just four points over the final 6:34. The teams entered the locker room with Trine on top 32-25.

A couple of three-point makes by the Bears cut the Thunder lead to one possession at 34-31, but the sharpshooter sophomore Sierra Hinds knocked down consecutive three’s from the left wing to help get the lead back up to 11 at 44-33. “Coach looked at me and said to knock down shots,” Hinds mentioned. “I was looking for my shot and my teammates did a great job at running the offense to get the open looks.”

A scoring drought followed for Trine, however and an 13-0 tally for WashU gave them their first lead of the game, 46-44. The Thunder were held off the board for a total of three minutes and 40 seconds before senior forward Sophie Sloneker got her first points in the game.

Wagner had this to say about overcoming some struggles in the third quarter: “We were struggling a little bit coming out in the third quarter but Sierra’s three’s brought us a lot of energy and we really needed it.”

Argyle and Hinds connected from downtown late to give Trine a 54-50 edge heading into the final 10 minutes. After allowing just 25 points in the first half, the Bears were able to rattle off 25 in the third quarter alone to cut into the Thunder advantage.

The teams traded punches in the fourth quarter as neither wanted to see their season come to an end. Ardis converted an offensive rebound into two to begin the frame and Argyle knocked down her third shot from beyond the arc to counter a make on the other end of the floor. Ardis distributed the basketball to Sanner inside for an and-one to go into the media timeout up 61-55.

A pair of three-point plays for the Bears made it a one-possession ballgame once more with under three minutes to play. Tate made a layup and a huge three off a steal to give Trine some breathing room at 67-61 with two minutes left.

With the only chance at a comeback for WashU coming from missed free throws by the Thunder, the team combined to go 11-of-12 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes to secure the double-digit win 79-69 and move on to Saturday.

Trine shot an even 50.0% (28-of-56) in the game and dominated the battle in the paint 36-20. Both teams were 9-of-25 (36.0%) from three-point range. The rebounding (28-27), assists (15-15) and turnover battles (14-16) were fairly even between both squads as well.

The Thunder will face the winner of the Loras College versus Knox College game on Saturday, March 4 in the Second Round. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. CST (8:30 p.m. EST).