March madness: Men’s, women’s basketball advance to Final Four

Zach Kelly dunks over a St. Thomas defender, putting an exclamation point on the Bears’ run to the Final Four.

For the second time in three years, Washington University is sending both its men’s and women’s basketball teams to the NCAA Division III Final Four.

The No. 2-ranked and defending national champion men’s team defeated No. 1-ranked and previously unbeaten University of St. Thomas, 79-64, March 14 in Wheaton, Ill., to advance to the Final Four for the third-straight season.

The Bears will take on No. 23 Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.) in the national semifinal on Friday, March 20, at 5 p.m. (ET) at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.

The No. 5 women’s basketball team withstood a second-half surge by No. 1 and previously unbeaten Illinois Wesleyan University to pick up a 58-53 win March 14 in Bloomington, Ill., and secure its eighth trip to the women’s Final Four. They’ll travel to the campus of Hope College in Holland, Mich., to take on No. 11 Amherst College (Amherst, Mass.) in the national semifinal at 4 p.m. (ET) Friday, March 20.

In 2007, the women advanced to the national championship game only to lose to DePauw University, 55-52.

“I think that we always knew that we had it in us to get back to the Final Four,” junior Zoe Unruh said. “I think it was the second half of the (University Athletic Association) regular season that we started going out and playing really well together, and I started to think that we can definitely do this.”

If the women defeat Amherst, they’ll play the winner of the matchup between No. 3 George Fox University (Newberg, Ore.) and The College of New Jersey (Ewing, N.J.) at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, March 21, in Holland.

Alex Hoover lays it up for the women in their win over Illinois Wesleyan. Both teams have a shot at the national title this weekend.

The men, winners of 18 of their past 19 games, are hoping to build on momentum to propel them to back-to-back national titles. They’ve already recorded a school-record 27 victories this season.

If the men defeat Guilford, they’ll play the winner of the matchup between Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.) and Richard Stockton College (Pomona, N.J.) at 3:05 p.m. (ET) Saturday, March 21, in Salem.

“Salem is a great place to celebrate Division III college basketball, and I can’t wait to go back,” senior Sean Wallis said.

Both national title games will be televised on the CBS College Sports network. Live audio for both games will be available via the Internet on