The Blugolds’ three-game winning streak comes to an end

UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team falls to UW-Oshkosh

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The Blugolds’ three-game winning streak comes to an end

Eau Claire’s Arien Brennan and Oshkosh’s Morgan Kokta struggle over possession of the ball.

Eau Claire’s Arien Brennan and Oshkosh’s Morgan Kokta struggle over possession of the ball.

Photo by Sam Farley

Eau Claire’s Arien Brennan and Oshkosh’s Morgan Kokta struggle over possession of the ball.

Photo by Sam Farley

Photo by Sam Farley

Eau Claire’s Arien Brennan and Oshkosh’s Morgan Kokta struggle over possession of the ball.

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The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team lost to conference rival UW-Oshkosh with a final score of 57-45 on Friday, Jan. 28 at Zorn Arena. This brought the Blugolds’ season record down to 10-9, and 4-4 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

The game started off strong for Eau Claire when Anna Graskaamp drained a three-pointer from beyond the arc. After a little back-and-forth on the court, Jenni LaCroix followed suit with another three, giving the Blugolds a three-point lead at the midway point of the first quarter.

The tables began to turn when Oshkosh’s Jaimee Pitt hit a buzzer beating three-pointer, tying the teams up 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.

After that, the Titans went on a scoring run, as their lead climbed to 11 points by the middle of the second quarter.

It did not help that around the same time, Bree Meier, one of Eau Claire’s best shooters, was subbed out due to an injury. Freshman forward, Anna Graaskamp, who recently recovered from a concussion, said that Bree’s rolled ankle was a huge loss for the team.

“We definitely missed her tonight,” Graaskamp said. “She said that a few more scoring runs would have made a victory possible.”

Although the Blugolds were unable to pull ahead of the Titans for the rest of the game, they did manage to close the gap to a certain extent. The peak of their comeback came when they were down by only four points going into the third quarter.

A foul on Oshkosh’s Morgan Kokta gave Eau Claire’s Kayla Hanley the chance to sink two free throws, and she took advantage of it. This put Eau Claire within two points of Oshkosh, but the close margin would not last.

The Titans went on another scoring run, putting the Blugolds 11 points behind with a score of 46-35 going into the fourth quarter.

After a series of crucial rebounds and shots from the inside, the Blugolds were only down five points with two minutes left in the game. They tried to gain possession of the ball by fouling the Titans, but Oshkosh only pulled further ahead by shooting seven successful free throws in a row to put the game on ice.

This ultimately secured the victory for Oshkosh; the game concluded with a final score of 57-45.

The Blugolds were 20 for 53 from the floor (37.7 percent) which was higher than the Titan’s 19-53 (35.8 percent). Despite their higher field goal percentage, Eau Claire fell short in three pointers and free throws, with totals of 3-17 and 2-2, respectively. The Titans had totals of 5-17 and 14-16 in those same areas.

Blugold head coach, Tonja Englund, said that the team’s shooting game wasn’t quite up to their standards.

“For us to have success, we have to really shoot it well,” Englund said. “That’s what we’re going to rely on, and it just didn’t fall tonight. We have to go to the rim and get to the free-throw line. We had two free throws tonight.”

Although the Blugolds struggled in the shooting department, they were not far behind the Titans’ pace throughout the game. Graaskamp, who led all scores in terms of shooting percentage with 10-16, said that coming off of a three-game winning streak gave them confidence that helped them hang close with Oshkosh.

Englund said the game was a great learning experience for her primarily young team, and she looks forward to their continued growth.

“It was a highly competitive, intense, almost play-off type of game,” Englund said. “If this is one of the top 20 teams in the country, we’re not far away.”

The Blugolds look forward to improving their game as they face UW-Stout at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Zorn Arena in Eau Claire.

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