UW-Eau Claire Women’s Basketball team heads to NCAA

Eau Claire falls in a triple overtime game

Ella Freeman

More stories from Ella Freeman

Across the Pond
February 7, 2024


A historic triple overtime at the NCAA

This weekend the UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team traveled to Chicago for the NCAA tournament. 

UW-Eau Claire faced off against Whitman College and lost in triple overtime with a score of 85-81. 

Head Coach Tonja Englund said the game was played well, and that her team showed a lot of grit and tenacity on the court. 

“It was one of those games where each team had the opportunity to break it open but the other team fought and kept it close, and we had several players rise to the occasion during the triple overtime,” Englund said.  

This game was the first triple overtime game in the history of Division III women’s basketball at the NCAA tournament.

“Going into triple overtime in an NCAA game is amazing. My team definitely left their heart and soul out on the floor and gave everything that they could,” Englund said. 

Fourth-year nursing student Jessie Ruden said the triple overtime was surreal. Ruden said she had never played in a triple overtime game, and for it to be her last game was definitely a battle. 

“It came down to the last couple plays. The other team did a great job of battling us back. They’re excellent competition. It was pretty crazy but definitely fun,” Ruden said.   

Ruden said that this season the team had one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

Ruden said playing some of the top-ranked teams in the country leading up to the conference, and playing some of the hardest teams during conference was what prepared the team for the NCAA tournament.  

Fourth-year kinesiology rehab science student Courtney Crouch said having one of the toughest schedules for Division III was what led them to the NCAA tournament. 

“Coach Englund put us in tough situations all year so we had an opportunity to go to the tournament. We didn’t win the conference to get the automatic bid, but we did get a bid because of our strength of schedule,” Crouch said. 

This is the second year in a row that the UW- Eau Claire Women’s Basketball team has made it to the NCAA championship, the most recent time before 2022 being 2012. 

Crouch said it was a very special experience for her to be able to compete not once, but twice in the NCAA tournament. 

“I think it is a really big deal for the program, we brought the culture back,” Crouch said.

According to Englund, a huge source of strength this season was the five seniors. Englund said that these five seniors have changed the program. 

“Each one of them is not only a great player but a great student-athlete, so I feel so blessed to have coached all five of them,” Englund said. 

Englund said that the rest of the team really stepped up when they were forming the NCAA team, and all the hard work the underclassmen and juniors put in to make the team better makes Englund very excited for the future of the program. 

Freeman can be reached at [email protected]