The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

W&L women’s basketball makes program history in the NCAA tournament

For the first time in program history, the W&L women’s basketball team makes it to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Division III Tournament
Generals Atheltics

The Washington and Lee women’s basketball team took new strides this season, making it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Sweet 16 and Elite 8 for the first time in program history. Reporter McKenzie Kane was joined by assistant women’s basketball coach Erin Hughes,’21, on March 7 to talk about these new program heights.

The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

You have given seven years of your life to this program. Four as a player, three as a coach. What does it mean to you to reach this milestone with a school that you’ve given so much your life to?

Hughes: Gosh, it means everything. I told the team that Tuesday practice after we found out that we were hosting that when I was a player, when I was a freshman, the goal was making a big run in the [Old Dominion Athletic Conference] tournament, and we weren’t looking as far as NCAA Tournament first round, let alone the Sweet 16. And so, I think it’s just incredible to have been with this program every step and through those last seven years and seeing that. We’re really reaching that potential, and we’re going places we haven’t been like you said. And I told them before the first-round game, if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. [The tournament] was a scary big dream. But I think as a as a team, as a program, the players, [Coach] Clancy, we’ve all been chasing that dream and to see it come to fruition has been incredibly rewarding.”

How are you balancing celebrating those wins, those dreams that you’re now accomplishing, with staying levelheaded knowing that there are more games to be played this season?

Hughes: That’s something that I’m actively working on, that balance. I’m very much like, “Next play, next game, we are still on a mission, have things to accomplish.” But I really [value] moments after, after the game, after those historic marks, the ODAC tournament, first-round win, second-round win, those moments on the court with our family, with the W&L community. I mean, they really showed out. The gym was packed both days and that was just so cool. So cool to see. But those moments are so surreal. You really soak it in with those people that you love and you worked so hard to get to this point with… And then Monday, we were practicing and we were after it, getting ready for Rhode Island. So, I definitely think it is a balance, and I think it’s something that down the line we’ll look back and we’ll really be able to look and we’ll really be able to soak it in, but for right now, we still have business to take care of.

Washington and Lee faced No. 3 Rhode Island College on Friday, March 8 for their Sweet 16 matchup. The Generals ended Rhode Island’s perfect season in a thrilling 61-55 win. Mary Schleusner, ’26, led the way with 34 points and 33 rebounds. Her 33 rebounds set a new program, ODAC and NCAA Division III Tournament record.

The team got to this point after its home court 80-70 win over No. 11 Catholic University on Saturday, March 2. The Generals then fell to No. 6 Wartburg College, on Saturday, March 9. Wartburg came away with the 68-58 win, ending Washington and Lee’s historic run in the NCAA DIII Tournament.

Editor’s Note: This version has been updated with the correct spelling of assistant coach Erin Hughes’s name.

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