Blugold women finish season in second round

The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team received an at-large bid into the

NCAA championship tournament, and traveled to Illinois Wesleyan for the first rounds of the tournament. On Friday, the Blugolds faced the DePauw University (Ind.) Tigers and won 62-50, advancing to the second round against No.1-ranked Illinois Wesleyan, where the season ended for Eau Claire, with a 80-63 loss Saturday night.

The meeting between the Blugolds and DePauw was the first ever between the two teams. DePauw University, which won the national championship two seasons ago, came in with a 22-5 record and was ranked No. 22 in the nation.

Eau Claire got off to a fast start, scoring the first five points and leading by as many as 10 in the first eight minutes. While DePauw was able to tie the game near the end of the first half, they were not able to take the lead. The Blugolds took a 28-22 lead into the second half, and quickly went on a 17-3 run. Eau Claire’s lead never fell below double-digits after that as the Blugolds cruised to the 12 point victory.

Sophomore Hannah Mesick led the Blugolds in scoring with 18 points. Senior Heidi Arciszewski scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, good enough for second on the team in both categories. Freshman Ellen Plendl recorded a team-high and career-high 11 rebounds and two blocks. Senior Heather Witt recorded five assists to go along with her seven points and seven rebounds.

The Blugolds grabbed 50 rebounds as a team – 14 offensive, 36 defensive – while DePauw only recorded 36 overall. The Tigers led all NCAA Division III teams with a +12.8 rebounding margin, and had only been outrebounded two previous times in the season.

Illinois Wesleyan entered Saturday night’s game without losing a game all season. The Blugolds trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, but chipped the deficit down to six at halftime. In the second half Eau Claire closed to within two points of the lead, but was unable to get over the hump as Illinois Wesleyan took control and rebuilt its double-digit lead.

Arciszewski once again scored 15 points, this time leading the team. Plendl recorded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Both Witt and Arciszewski tied for the team lead in assists with four each. Witt recorded one steal, which gave her 99 on the season, tying an Eau Claire single-season record.

The loss eliminated the Blugolds from the tournament, and put an end to their season. Seniors Arciszewski, Witt, Missy Fremstad, Pam Kaye and Ashley Anderson all competed in their final games for Eau Claire.

Spectator staff