Blugold basketball beats Superior

David Taintor

Prior to this season’s second meeting between the UW-Eau Claire and UW-Superior women basketball teams, Blugold head coach Tonja Englund said she wanted her team to establish a fast-paced game right from the start and shoot better than in the teams’ first meeting, when the Blugolds won 48-43. She got just that.

The Blugolds took an early 9-0 lead and shot almost 57 percent from the field en route to a 70-43 victory Wednesday night at Zorn Arena. The Blugolds led the entire game and held the Yellowjackets to just 29 percent shooting from the field, pleasing the large number of youth attending the game as part of the team’s Youth Night for Blugold fans.

After having not played at Zorn Arena for the past 11 days, the team was eager to get back home, where they are undefeated. The Blugolds had a 5-2 record over the winter break and entered Wednesday’s game ranked eighth nationally and looking to move up in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings, where they were ranked third.

“I think you could see the players were excited to be back and they were excited about the crowd and the community and they played with a lot of pride and emotion,” Englund said.

Sophomore center Hannah Mesick led all scorers with 13 points, followed by sophomore Katie Weinberg, who scored 11 points off the bench. The team led 31-13 at halftime, and gathered its largest lead of the night at 34 points with fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Blugold bench scored 29 points, compared to the Yellowjackets’ nine bench points, and were able to gather 10 fast break points to their opponent’s two. The Blugolds outscored their opponent 34-20 in the paint.

“The home-court advantage played a huge role in how we played,” Mesick said. “We came in really focused today . and the fans and the big crowd helped us out too to get a lot of energy.”

After the game, while the team stuck around autographing posters and programs for the many youth in attendance, word made its way to the court that UW-Whitewater, ranked second in the WIAC above the Blugolds, had suffered a loss to UW-La Crosse. Many of the players gasped with excitement and the energy in the building rose.

“It’s great to be able to play so well because it gives us some momentum,” Englund said. “(Saturday is) our alumni day . so it’s a big pride day and we are looking forward to having a big crowd because they help us win games and the players play with a lot of emotion.”

Tipoff for Saturday’s game between Eau Claire and Whitewater is set for 5 p.m. The Blugolds will attempt to maintain their undefeated record at home in an important match up that will have implications in the WIAC’s overall season standings.