Second half woes

Oshkosh outshoots Eau Claire by 22 percent in the final period

As the first half buzzer sounded Wednesday night, the UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team ran into the locker room with a 26-21 lead against the No. 19 team in the country and conference-leading UW-Oshkosh Titans.

But the Blugolds fell victim to an old enemy, blowing a halftime lead for the eighth time this season in an eventual 58-45 loss at Zorn Arena.

“That’s been a theme throughout the year,” head coach Tonja Englund said. “We’ve played against some of the best teams in the country and played for a half.”

Oshkosh came out in the second half on an 11-4 run to take the lead for good at the 14:11 mark of the second half. The senior and junior-laden Titans, who left Eau Claire boasting a 16-1 record, pulled away from the younger Blugold squad late in
the game.

Oshkosh was able to use the dribble-drive technique Eau Claire was able to defend successfully in the first-half more effectively in the second 20 minutes of action, scoring mid-range buckets frequently.

Freshman forward Ellen Blacklock said even though they were able to stop the Titan offense in the first half, they needed to be able to stop it for a whole game, something she said they are working to fix.

“We’re going to continue to work on it because it needs to get better, and it will,” Blacklock said.

Blacklock provided a huge spark for the Blugolds on the defensive end, as she swatted seven shots to make her fall two blocks short of the single-game school record.

“We’re building our defense around Ellen right now with that shot blocking ability,” Englund said. “Seven blocked shots in a game against one of the best teams in the country, she’s going to be a great player.”

Blacklock also teamed up with junior teammates Rachel Egdorf and Courtney Lewis to provide a spark in the low block.

Sharp shooters Teenie Lichtfuss, Abby Midtlien and Kristin Sahr struggled from the outside against a tough Oshkosh defense,
collectively going 2-for-12 from the 3-point line.

Egdorf said she and the other players in the low post have been working at becoming options in the offense as well to help out when the outside shots aren’t falling, such as Wednesday night.

“We need to go in there and we need to be a threat to score,” Egdorf said. “We need to pick up the points in the paint. We had great looks from the outside. They didn’t fall tonight, but we have great shooters who will knock them down in the future.”

Lewis led Eau Claire with 10 points while Blacklock added nine and Egdorf chipped in eight.

The Blugolds get the opportunity to redeem themselves when they welcome rival UW-Stout. The Blugolds were able to knock off the Blue Devils on the road on Jan. 4 to gather their only conference win of the season. Tip off is for 3 p.m. Saturday in Zorn Arena.