Blugold women’s hoops find rhyme as they near WIAC tournament

With a sweep of their two-game road trip this week, the Blugolds could go into the WIAC tournament with a home game and a three-game winning streak.

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Blugold women’s hoops find rhyme as they near WIAC tournament

Photo by Trent Tetzlaff

Photo by Trent Tetzlaff

Photo by Trent Tetzlaff

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Before the season began, UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball coach Tonja Englund stressed how important it was to have a mix of strong post players and outside scorers like they have on their roster.

From 6-foot-4 center Erin O’Toole and the nearly 6-foot forward Madison Johnson holding down the post, to the backcourt duo of Jenny LaCroix at point guard and Teenie Lichtfuss on the wing, they have given Englund the balance she would like out of her starting lineup she said.

However, despite the balance found in the Blugolds lineup all season long, Englund said the team still has a lot to improve if they would like to make a run in the conference tournament later this month.

Free throw shooting percentages and attempts, along with turnovers, defensive rebounding and leadership from seniors are all things to improve over the season’s final weeks if Eau Claire wants to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid, Englund said.

“Free throws, defensive rebounding and turnovers are the main things I look to right away on the stat sheet,” Englund said. “These things usually swing for us how the game goes.”

The items on the stat sheet aren’t the only aspects determining the game to Englund.

“I think seniors get you to championships,” she said. “I think our seniors have to play really well right now and I think they have to be inspirational to everyone else as well to get us there.”

Although Englund believes her team still has a lot to improve on before the conference tournament begins, she said a good place to start would simply be winning their final two games of the season.

The Blugolds road trip to end the regular season gives them matchups with UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater. The Blugolds beat the Eagles by 30 points in their first matchup, but fell to conference leading UW-Whitewater after blowing a fourth quarter lead.

Englund said the team tries to stay away from looking back to the first matchup when preparing for games in the second round of WIAC play, because teams have changed and improved from those first games.

All preparations aside, the Blugolds could put themselves in a great spot heading into the conference tournament by winning their final two games, after last weekend’s win over UW-Stevens Point.

“Improving off Saturday and keeping this going, the key is that we have momentum going into the conference tournament,” Englund said. “If we can win three straight going in, I think that really helps us.”

The Blugolds wrap up regular season conference play with a rematch against the Warhawks at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in Whitewater before finding out where they will matchup in the conference tournament.