Losing streak continues

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Losing streak continues

Story by Nick Erickson, Staff Writer

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In a week where the UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team played against the top two teams  in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, they had to do so without starting freshman point guard Cady Roedl.

Coming out strong and playing error-free basketball was pivotal. The Blugolds did just the opposite though, as first half turnovers proved to be too much to overcome in losses to conference co-leaders UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater last week in Zorn Arena.

On Jan. 23, Superior used a full court press to come away with a 56-53 victory over the Blugolds.

The Yellowjackets dominated the first half, opening the game with an 8-0 run while forcing 13 of the Blugolds 18 total turnovers en route to a 30-19 halftime lead.

Head Coach Tonja Englund was disappointed in how lackluster her team played in the first half.

“Some of it, I thought, we just came out nervous,” Englund said.  “But it just isn’t the way we play.”

Englund decided to try a veteran lineup to right the ship in the second half,  and despite trailing 36-21 with 16:54 left to play, the Blugolds came all the way back to tie it at 51 with 1:08 remaining in the game.

Superior’s Deandra Vavra spoiled that comeback attempt, however.  She hit a jumper with 35 seconds left to put the Yellowjackets back on top for good.

Blugold senior guard Casteele Miller was one of the veterans that Englund turned to in the second half, and she thought the lineup change keyed the comeback.

“As upperclassmen, we’ve been in those situations before,” Miller said.  “We know what we should be doing in those critical times.”

Despite falling short, sophomore Courtney Lewis fell out of her recent offensive struggles to score 20 points, all in the second half.

“I’m looking for my shots more,” Lewis said. “I just need to take more and be more confident in myself.”

During Saturday’s 57-43 loss to Whitewater, the Blugolds found out that Lewis’ confidence will play an even more vital role down the stretch as they fight for a berth in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

Senior forward Sarah Bingea, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, left the game at the 1:18 mark of the first half with an apparent ankle injury.

With Bingea out, Englund emptied her bench, as all 12 Blugolds saw playing time.

It was once again Lewis that answered the call, scoring nine points to lead the Blugolds in scoring for the second straight game. She said that she wishes Bingea was out there, but in her absence,  is willing to take over the
go-to role.

“She does a lot for us,” Lewis said of Bingea.  “But when she did go out, I realized that I had to step up.”

The Blugolds once again struggled out of the gates. After leading 5-2 early, Whitewater applied a pressure defense of their own and went on a 12-0 run to take command of the game.

They forced 10 of the Blugolds 18 turnovers in the first half and went into halftime leading 29-20.

Senior guard Leah Rempert, who scored six points in the game to help Lewis carry the scoring load, was frustrated by coming out slowly again.

“We were really hoping for a quicker start than what we got today,” Rempert said.

The Blugolds battled in the second half, cutting the lead to four early in the half until Whitewater’s guard play of junior Mary Merg and senior Megan Theune took over the game and the Blugolds never got within 10 after the 10:29 mark of the second half.

The Blugolds remain in sixth place with an overall record of 9-11 (4-7) and will play the rest of their season in survival mode, trying to hold onto that last eligible seed for the WIAC tournament.  If they do and get healthy, Englund said she thinks that a run at the conference championship is attainable.

“On any given night, I think we’ve proved we can beat anybody,” Englund said.

The Blugolds travel to UW-Oshkosh Thursday to make up Wednesday night’s weather delayed contest.

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