Go Eutectics! College basketball's most prolific scorer plays for a school (with a strange mascot) you’ve never heard of

The woman who is poised to etch her name in the college basketball record books made the improbable look easy on Tuesday night.

Swarmed by long-armed help defenders after picking up her dribble in the paint, she spun out of a double team and banked in a heavily contested shot high off the glass. The degree of difficulty left one of the broadcasters marveling, “Why even defend her at this point?”

Everything about that highlight screams Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark, except that it didn’t take place inside a sold-out Big Ten arena. It happened in front of a few dozen fans on the campus of a tiny St. Louis pharmacy college.

Grace Beyer, a fifth-year senior at off-the-radar University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy, is the only active player who has racked up more career points than Clark has. Beyer has tallied 3,724 points in 127 games, compared to Clark’s 3,520 in 125 games.

At some point Thursday night, barring an untimely injury or an unprecedented cold streak, Clark will score her 3,528th career point and become the leading scorer in NCAA women’s history. Soon after that, Beyer is likely to eclipse the NAIA all-time scoring record held by Miriam Walker, who scored 3,855 while playing at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in the late 1980s.

To be mentioned in the same conversation with Clark is a “pretty amazing feeling,” Beyer told Yahoo Sports. Beyer knows that their achievements have come against very different competition, yet she also proudly points out that “scoring 30-plus points per game is difficult at any level.”

“Everyone puts Caitlin Clark on a pedestal,” Beyer said. “Just to be somewhat near the pedestal is awesome.”

Beyer’s record chase won’t play out in front of sellout crowds and record TV audiences. Strangers aren’t standing outside in the cold for hours to make sure they get a chance to see her play. Big brands aren’t paying her lavishly to appear in their commercials or grace their cereal boxes.

And yet the story of how she landed at a little-known NAIA school and stayed there her entire career is an intriguing one. Like Clark, women’s college basketball’s other record chaser has a story worth telling.

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration)
Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports illustration (Photo credits: UHSP)

‘D-I isn’t for me’

From the moment she first started playing basketball at age 6, Grace Beyer desired nothing more than to be the best at it.

At first, that meant trying to hold her own against her stronger, faster older brothers, Brian and Daniel. They outmuscled Beyer for years playing 1-on-1 on the family’s driveway in suburban Wisconsin. Then Beyer reached middle school and developed a feathery jump shot to counter their bullyball.

As Beyer got older, her goal morphed into something more than just being the best player in her family or in her neighborhood. She started to believe that she was capable of playing Division I college basketball.

Every morning, Beyer would wake up at 5 a.m. and shoot with her dad for an hour before school at the local YMCA. Then at night, after swim practice, Beyer and her dad would do another hour and a half of drills. Sometimes Beyer wouldn’t leave the gym until she sank a few hundred shots from a certain spot.

That work ethic helped Beyer blossom into one of the state of Wisconsin’s most well-rounded point guards. She started as a freshman for a Mukwonago team that reached the state title game in Wisconsin’s top division. Conference player of the year and all-state accolades followed in ensuing seasons. So did ruthlessly efficient shooting percentages and assist-to-turnover ratios.

“She shot almost 90% from the free throw line and almost 50% from the field while averaging about one turnover per game,” former Mukwonago coach Rick Kolinske said. “Statistically, it was almost like a video game sometimes. You don’t see stat lines like that from very many high school players.”

In a cruel twist, mid-major and low-major Division I programs across the Midwest began taking notice of Beyer at about the same time that she began to reassess her priorities.

The primary purpose of going to college, she decided, wasn’t to play four years of basketball at the highest possible level. It was to position herself to pursue a career she would enjoy for the next 40 years after that.

Already intrigued by working in healthcare, Beyer began speaking with professionals in the field to narrow her options. She quickly figured out that she wanted to study to become a pharmacist, which typically requires a rigorous undergraduate major like biology, chemistry or physics before attending pharmacy school.

When Beyer mentioned her goal of becoming a pharmacist to the Division I coaches who were recruiting her, she said the conversations often followed a familiar pattern. They would initially show support but gradually stop investing time in recruiting her, leaving her feeling that many of them were uneasy about having a player major in something that could take too much time away from basketball.

“I have a lot of friends that went to bigger D-I schools and wanted to do something in the healthcare field,” Beyer said. “Their coaches straight up said no you’re not doing that. That’s kind of how it is when you go to bigger colleges. Basketball is your job. Basketball is your life. I quickly realized that maybe D-I isn’t for me.”

Beyer began looking for something different, an accelerated program where she could earn her doctorate in pharmacy in six years rather than eight. With the support of her parents, she turned down opportunities to play D-I basketball, ignoring backlash from a few disappointed coaches who felt she had worked too hard to pass up that chance.

Those coaches must have been especially distraught by the school that Beyer ultimately chose.

The all-state point guard who guided Mukwonago to a 24-2 record as a senior enrolled at a tiny college about as far from the bright lights of D-I as you can get.

Choosing the Eutectics

In 1864, a St. Louis drugstore owner founded a pharmacy college in a rented classroom on the campus of one of the city’s first medical schools. Since then, the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy has produced many more accomplished pharmacists and health-care professionals than it has athletes.

The athletic department’s claim to fame before Beyer was one of the most eclectic nicknames in all of college sports. In 1993, the students voted to call the school’s athletic teams the Eutectics, named after the process of two solids combining to form a liquid.

Since a scientific process is difficult to turn into an actual mascot, the school created Mortarmer McPestle, better known on campus as Morty. He’s 6-feet tall, furry and yellow with sunken black eyes, clawed feet and a white lab coat.

Beyer admits she didn’t fully understand the meaning of “eutectic” until her freshman year when she attended a lab about what it was. Now she’s the one explaining it to perplexed friends and acquaintances.

“A lot of people don’t even know how to pronounce it,” Beyer said with a laugh. “They add letters of the alphabet that aren’t even there.”

Transforming UHSP women’s basketball into a winner has been an even bigger challenge for Beyer than introducing “eutectic” into the vernacular. This is a program that went 19-116 against low-level competition in the five seasons before Beyer arrived on campus. Of course, that was downright impressive compared to the men’s basketball program, which endured a 107-game losing streak from Nov. 1, 2014 to Dec. 3, 2018.

The catalyst for meaningful change was a coaching switch after Beyer’s freshman season. Jeff Reis persuaded Beyer that the 17.5 points she averaged as a freshman would not be enough to reverse UHSP’s fortunes. For her team to win games, Beyer needed to hunt shots. She had to understand that a contested layup or off-balance jumper for her might be a better shot than a more open look for one of her teammates.

“It took probably like a whole season for me to get that mindset,” Beyer said. “In high school, I wasn’t necessarily the focal player because we had so much other talent around. I was more of a pass-first point guard. But in college, I started to realize that the games we were losing were games that I wasn’t getting very many shots up. I had to put up 20 shots a game or more for us to be competitive and to win.”

Since her sophomore season, Beyer has become everything to her team that Caitlin Clark is to Iowa. Not only is she leading the NAIA in scoring for a fourth straight year, she’s also a willing passer and a vocal leader. The only thing preventing Beyer from becoming the NAIA version of Clark is that her range doesn’t extend to the mid-court logo.

Opposing coaches have tried all sorts of schemes to keep Beyer in check, but seldom have they been very successful. Beyer is accustomed to weaving through double and triple teams, to wrecking all sorts of gimmick defenses and ball-screen coverages. One opponent so badly wanted to get the ball out of her hands that all five defenders collapsed on her whenever she attacked off the dribble.

While her damage is done at the NAIA level, facing stiffer competition hasn’t slowed her down. Four times UHSP has played exhibition games against Division I opponents since 2020. Beyer has tallied at least 29 points in all of them. Last season, she outscored Southeast Missouri State by herself in the first half.

“The one thing that stands out the most about Grace is how intelligent she is on the floor,” said Jillian Lipman-Segura, who succeeded Reis as UHSP head coach earlier this season. “Her IQ is crazy. I see her make incredible reads. When teams are collapsing on her, she knows her teammates are going to be there to make shots and if they take those open shooters away, she’s able to attack the rim.”

Thanks in large part to Beyer, UHSP women’s basketball has climbed to once unimaginable heights, producing back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2022 and 2023. Beyer wasn’t certain she wanted to take advantage of her COVID fifth year of eligibility until someone told her last spring that the all-time NAIA scoring record was within reach.

“I’m so close,” she remembers thinking. “I feel like I’ve just got to take a punch at it.”

Beyer has four regular season games left and her conference tournament to make up a 131-point gap between herself and Walker. If she matches her current scoring output of 34 points per game, she'd break the NAIA record during her UHSP's regular season finale.

While Beyer’s past and current coaches unanimously agree that she could have thrived at the D-I level, she doesn’t regret not taking advantage of opportunities to transfer. She’s on pace to graduate with her doctorate in 2025 and she may leave with a notable record if she can finish this season strong.

“I’ve definitely thought of the what-ifs,” Beyer acknowledged. “What if I did go to a D-I school? Where would I be? But it’s never really been a serious conversation. I’m really happy with my decision to come here.”