A stout effort from the 3-point line

Midtlien and Sahr play well from the outside in blowout victory

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A stout effort from the 3-point line

Freshman Ellen Blacklock goes up for a shot against three UW-Stout players on Jan. 25 at Zorn Arena.

Freshman Ellen Blacklock goes up for a shot against three UW-Stout players on Jan. 25 at Zorn Arena.

Freshman Ellen Blacklock goes up for a shot against three UW-Stout players on Jan. 25 at Zorn Arena.

Freshman Ellen Blacklock goes up for a shot against three UW-Stout players on Jan. 25 at Zorn Arena.

Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

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In recent weeks, UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball coach Tonja Englund said she had been looking for one player to step up and take big shots in a game. But during Saturday’s game against UW-Stout, it wasn’t just one player who answered the coach’s call.

Freshman Abby Midtlien and junior Kristin Sahr combined for seven 3-pointers and 40 total points to shoot the Blue Devils out of Zorn Arena in a 76-50 Blugold win.

“The team needs to understand that Abby and Kristin are two of the best 3-point shooters in the league,” Englund said. “We’ve got to have a couple of people who are willing to change things for us, and credit to a freshman (Midtlien) the way she came out and credit to Kristin.”

Midtlien came out blazing to start both halves. She knocked down her first triple of the night 1:30 into the contest in the midst of an 8-0 run to start the game for Eau Claire. She also rattled home one to start a run at the beginning of the second half to help the Blugolds go on a 13-0 run to open up the game. She finished the night with 16 points and four 3-pointers.

Sahr came off the bench for a career night, netting 24 points, which is a season-high for any Blugold player in one game this season. She scored 16 of them in the second half and went a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line.

“We’ve been working in practice to get the ball to our shooters more like me and Kristin to hit us when we’re open,” Midtlien said. “I think we really executed that, and it really gave a spark to the rest of the offense.”

While it was Midtlien and Sahr who lit up the scoreboard in Zorn Arena, they weren’t the only ones making contributions as Englund said it was one of the most complete games the team has played all year.

Sophomore guard Teenie Lichtfuss chipped in 12 points. All in all, 10 different Blugolds got in the scoring column of the box score.

Midtlien said hot shooting can become contagious and give confidence to the team, no matter who makes the first basket.

“I think it spreads throughout our team, the energy flows when one person starts and the rest of the team goes,” Midtlien said.

The Blugolds held an eight-point halftime advantage at 34-26, but unlike previous games this season, Eau Claire dominated the second half to leave no doubt. Englund said it was great to see her team learn from previous games and play with the same intensity and execution for both halves.

“It’s a big step for this team,” Englund said. “As an educator and a coach, that’s what it’s all about.”

Eau Claire was as efficient as they’ve been all year, finishing the night shooting almost 50 percent from the floor and committing only 11 turnovers. They also dished 19 assists in the contest and went 13-for-17 on free throws.

“Stout’s always really scrappy,” Sahr said. “Our goal was to just make good passes, be super fundamental and not force it if we didn’t need to.”

Wednesday, the Blugolds dropped a 60-50 decision to No. 24 UW-Stevens Point, but they showed improvement. Lichtfuss led the team with 14 points in the game. Eau Claire dropped an 85-45 contest at Stevens Point earlier this season.

Eau Claire will look to keep up the improved play Saturday at UW-La Crosse. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Mitchell Field House.

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