Women’s basketball falls to the Pointers after a slow start

Jenni LaCroix and Katie Essen led the fight, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win



Blugolds suffered a 85-76 loss on Saturday

Women’s basketball traveled to Stevens Point this Saturday, where they lost to the UW-Stevens Point Pointers, 85-76. After a slow start in the first period, the Blugolds fought back hard, but were unable to pull through in the fourth.

Stevens Point kicked things off with two 3-pointers early on in the period. Within the first two minutes of the game, Eau Claire managed to tie things up with two layups from Anna Graaskamp and a jump shot from Brooke Harris — both second-year forwards.

The Pointers answered the Blugolds’ resurgence with a 10-0 run, only to be cut off by Kelsey Brakken, a second-year shooting guard, with two free throws. Despite the Blugolds’ efforts to regain a lead, the first period came to an end with the Pointers up 27-14.

UW-Eau Claire managed to decrease the deficit by eight points within the first three minutes of the second period, courtesy of Harris and Katie Essen, a first-year center. Stevens Point responded with a 3-pointer, managing to maintain a steady lead throughout the period.

Essen, who led the team with 25 points during Saturday’s game, said that while she was not pleased with the game’s outcome, the team’s offensive selflessness is what carried them through to the end.

“There was a point in the game when we were still losing, but then we just came together,” said Essen. “We all shared the ball really well.”

Despite a successful offensive showing, Essen argued that it was the team’s defense that needed more attention.

“Together, as a team, we need to take defense more seriously,” she said.

With less than a minute left in the half, Jenni LaCroix, a senior point guard, scored another 3-pointer for the Blugolds. The Pointers clapped back once again with their final 3-pointer of the half, securing a 43-36 lead at the end of the second period.

The third period kicked off with a score from Kayla Hanley, a senior forward, slightly bridging the seven-point gap between the Blugolds and Pointers. Stevens Point persisted with a 5-0 run, once again gaining a commanding lead over Eau Claire.

The Blugolds’ luck seemed to turn around as they managed their own 5-0 run, procuring 11 points and their first lead of the game. Eau Claire triumphed the third period with a tentative 53-52 lead.

The Blugolds’ upperhand didn’t last long. The Pointers rocketed into the final period of the game with three successful shots, placing them back in the lead. LaCroix responded later on with a 3-pointer of her own, only to have her efforts negated by another Stevens Point 3-pointer.

LaCroix, who contributed a total of 11 points to the Blugolds’ overall score, said she was also dissatisfied with Saturday’s outcome. Like Essen, LaCroix praised the team’s good shooting and “strong offense,” but also attributed Saturday’s loss to a lack of defensive cohesion, arguing that the team should play with a little more “grittiness.”

Despite everything, both LaCroix and Essen shared that they were looking forward to taking on UW-Stevens Point again during tournament play.

“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but all we can do is move forward,” LaCroix said. “We’re just looking to take one game at a time.”

Though Eau Claire put up a hard fight, Stevens Point dominated the final period with 11 successful free throws out of 12 attempted. The Blugolds completed their final game of the regular season with a loss of 85-76, leaving them with an overall record of 17-8.

The loss drops Eau Claire’s conference record to 9-5. The Blugolds kick-off the WIAC tournament at home on Tuesday, taking on UW-Stevens Point (8-6) once again.