Women’s hoops opens WIAC play with a win
The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team opened up conference play with a 53-47 win on Saturday against the UW-La Crosse Eagles in La Crosse.
The Blugolds were led by double doubles from seniors Callie Halama and Ellen Plendl, while senior Laura Olson also scored in double figures with 12 points.
Seven of Halama’s 11 rebounds were offensive rebounds, and she said she wasn’t aware she was close to a double double, but just kept going after rebounds.
Halama said she had one double double earlier in the year, but other than that, she hasn’t had one since high school.
“It definitely motivates me for other games too, because I know what’s possible,” Halama said.
Olson shot 4-6 from 3-point range, which she said is a little bit more accurate than she usually is at that range. “La Crosse has always been a good place that I’ve shot at,” Olson said. “It definitely helped when the ball was going inside, that I got some open looks.”
Junior forward Sarah Bingea said the team focused on getting the ball into the post so that the outside shooting would open up.
Halama said the team wanted the post players to either try to score, or to pass the ball out to a guard for a shot.
Olson said the team’s goal was to control the tempo against La Crosse, by either pushing the ball or slowing it down.
“We had a definite advantage in the post,” Olson said. “Callie Halama crashed the boards really hard and got a lot of points off the boards.”
The team had 18 turnovers against La Crosse, which is an issue Olson said they’ve been addressing.
“When you turn the ball over that much, it hurts the offense a lot,” Olson said. “You can’t get into a flow and you have to play more defense.”
Bingea echoed Olson’s sentiments that turnovers make it hard for the team to be successful and get into a rhythm on offense.
“It makes it easier for them to get transition baskets as well,” Bingea said.
Opening conference play with a win on the road was an important step in the season, Olson said.
“La Crosse is generally not the easiest place to play, so it was good to start off there with a win,” Olson said.
Bingea said that in the WIAC it’s hard to win games on the road, so it was good to get the first win on the road to start the year.
“It’s big to get that first one so we can have some confidence going into the rest of the conference season,” Bingea said.
Halama said it was important that the team win a close game on the road, to give the team confidence that they can pull out wins in close games.
“Coach’s main thing this year is just taking it game by game and setting goals for each game,” Halama said.
Eau Claire takes on UW-Whitewater on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Zorn Arena.