It was all about focus this past weekend for the women’s basketball team.

Take, for instance, UR’s overtime victory over the 25th-ranked University of Chicago on Sunday. With just two seconds remaining and the Yellowjackets up by two points in overtime, Maroon guard Jamie Stinson went up for a lay-up attempt that would tie the game at 54. And after almost 45 minutes of hard-fought, defensive basketball, it wouldn’t have been surprising for the home team to give in &- and to allow just one more basket.

Instead, junior guard Melissa Alwardt emphatically swatted Stinson’s attempt away from the hoop, ending any hope of a Maroon victory and capping off arguably UR’s most important weekend to date in appropriate fashion.

‘We were still a little tired from Friday’s game, but we found a way to pull it out,” Alwardt said of Sunday’s 54-52 win. ‘We are very good late in games and seem to find a way to pull out those close games.”

By Sunday afternoon, UR could probably best be described as tired. Prior to taking down the 13-5 Maroons, the Yellowjackets notched a 63-51 victory over Washington University in St. Louis on Friday evening.

With the victories, UR moved into the rankings for the first time this year at No. 24 and jumped into second in the University Athletic Association.

At the time, WashU was ranked No. 3 in the country according to a poll but that hardly seemed to bother the Yellowjackets on Friday night as they manhandled the

Bears defensively throughout the first half. UR held WashU scoreless for the first 7:03 and went into halftime with a 30-16 lead.

‘I thought we played about as well as we could have on the defensive end and also had many timely baskets on the other end,” Scheible said.

In the second half, the Yellowjackets extended their lead by as many as 22 at one point, when sophomore forward Jodie Luther hit a jumper to cap off a 15-5 UR run with 12:18 remaining in the game. Luther scored a career-high 23 points to pace both teams in the scoring department, while also grabbing eight rebounds.

Alwardt had 11 points, most of which came from the free-throw line (she hit just 1-7 from the floor), and junior guard Alicia Testani also added 11 off the bench.

‘We’re sort of a young team, but we keep growing up every week, and our coach always tells us if we play hard and together we can beat anyone,” Luther said. ‘Winning games in our league, and especially against WashU and Chicago, is always tough, because every team is very good.”

On Sunday, that young team battled through fatigue to pull out the victory, this time led by one of its veterans. Before she even had a chance to block Stinson’s lay-up attempt in overtime, Alwardt had to get her team to the extra period.

With 25 seconds left in regulation, the ‘Jackets were down by three. Alwardt got the ball near the right sideline and was fouled as she attempted a 3-pointer. The 85.9 percent free-throw shooter hit all three, sending the game into an extra period.

Alwardt finished Sunday’s game with 19 points, but perhaps the more important number for her team that weekend was her percentage from the charity stripe, where she was perfect, hitting 15-15 through two games.

And while this weekend was an important step for a young UR team, it was only round one.

‘The wins this weekend were exciting and mean a lot to us,” Luther said. ‘But the thing is we have to duplicate our effort again next weekend when we face the same teams on the road.”

Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.

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