The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Women’s hoops rout Platteville

    Kathlyn Hotynski

    Following Monday night’s victory over UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball players congregated on the court like always. After roughly 15 minutes, the house announcer turned on the microphone and gave the news that No. 3 seed UW-Whitwater lost its game, and the Blugolds would be playing at home against No. 7 seed UW-Platteville Wednesday night.

    Zorn Arena erupted in cheers.

    The Blugolds used that home court advantage to beat the Pioneers 73-41 in front of a lively crowd to advance to the finals of the WIAC tournament and finish their season 13-0 at Zorn Arena.

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    The Blugolds play UW-Stout Saturday at 3 p.m. to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

    The Blugolds got off to a fast start Wednesday, jumping out to a 13-4 lead, with sophomore Heidi Arciszewski scoring 13 of Eau Claire’s first 18 points.

    Leading 30-20 with seconds left in the first half, junior Michelle Burns hit a long jumper to give the Blugolds a 32-20 lead at the half.

    Eau Claire worked off that momentum in the second half, getting an 11-3 jump on Platteville and outscoring the Pioneers 41-21 before the end of the game.

    “This is definitely the first game that we’ve put a full first half and a full second half together,” said Burns, who celebrated her birthday Tuesday. “We came out knocking down shots, finding the open player and keeping the pace up and just playing our game.”

    Burns finished with 12 points to complement Arciszewski’s 21. Arciszewski now has 43 points in two WIAC tournament games.

    Defensively, the Blugolds focused on shutting down Platteville’s top scorer, Liz Tesch. Tesch averages almost 15 points a game. The Blugolds held the senior center to just six points.

    “We knew we had to take (Tesch) out,” sophomore Brittanni Hakanson said. “We had to take control of her and double her, do what we can to mix it up so she was never comfortable.”

    Hakanson scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Blugolds. Sophomore center Ashley Anderson also had six rebounds to go along with her 12 points.

    Eau Claire held Platteville to 35 percent shooting from the field and forced 22 turnovers.

    “That’s just intensity,” Arciszewski said. “Any team can play defense, but it’s just a choice and tonight everyone stepped up and stayed on their feet and kept moving.”

    Saturday’s game against Stout will mark the teams’ third meeting of the season, with both teams winning their home game.

    Coach Tonja Englund is looking for her third NCAA tournament appearance in seven years as coach of the Blugolds, including a Final Four run in the 2003 tournament.

    “It’s a great way to finish the WIAC tournament – to have an Eau Claire-Stout game – because it’s an awesome rivalry and hopefully we’ll have a great crowd,” Englund said.

    If Eau Claire loses Saturday, it could still secure an NCAA appearance with an at-large bid. Although Englund doesn’t want to think of that possibility, she feels her team deserves the selection.

    “I would make that case for any team in our league that ended up in that situation, because I think we beat up on each other,” she said. “I think there’s so many good teams in this league that our record is not indicative of what kind of team we are.”

    After a physical game against the Pioneers, the Blugolds have today off, but are back to practice Friday. Burns is glad for the break.

    “We can just rest our bodies,” she said.

    Englund said the Eau Claire players have matured and gotten better over the past three weeks.

    “I like the challenges that they’ve had coming at them,” she said. “Everything that we’ve seen as far as different teams coming in here and throwing different things at us, they’ve reacted pretty well.

    “This is going to be the ultimate test for us, is to go back over there . and I know my players want to play them.”

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    Women’s hoops rout Platteville