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

    Lady Blugolds narrowly beat Eagles

    Although UW-La Crosse entered the locker room at halftime with the lead, the UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team remained poised and came back on the court to secure a 68-62 win over the Eagles at Mitchell Hall in Lacrosse on Saturday.

    The Blugolds have secured wins in both meetings with La Crosse this season and improve to 7-11 overall and 6-3 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). The Eagles fell to 12-6 on the season and 4-5 in WIAC standings.

    Not even ten seconds into the game, junior Hannah Mesick put the first points on the board, to which La Crosse responded back with six unanswered points. With the score tied four times in the first half of the game, it became apparent it would be a battle on the court until the last buzzer sounded.

    With the end of the first half, the Blugolds entered the locker room trailing the Eagles by one point, 36-35.

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    “When we went into the locker room at halftime, we knew that we needed to come out in the second half and get defensive stops,” said sophomore Laura Olson. “Both teams had a high-scoring first half, and we knew we needed to dig in and stop the Eagles’ offense.”

    As sophomore Ellen Plendl put the first points on the board with the opening basket of the second half, the Blugolds took control of the game. The Blugolds secured a five-point lead within the first five minutes of the second half. The Eagles remained behind as the Blugolds scored twelve unanswered points and built their largest lead of the game at 15 points with eight minutes to go.

    The Eagles managed to stay close behind the Blugolds, who shot 19-for-50 from the floor (38%) and 25-for-48 (52.1%), respectively. La Crosse closed the gap to a mere two points within the last minutes of the game, but the Blugolds held out for a well-earned six-point victory.

    “This is one of the best overall victories that the team has had,” coach Tonja Englund said. “We’ve had a difficult schedule, and with a lot of younger players and only a couple of seniors, there has been a lot of growing in the month of January.”

    With the impressive win came impressive numbers, as four Blugolds secured double figures: Freshman Sarah Bingea with 10 points, Olson with 13 points, Plendl with 17 points and Mesick with 20 points. Plendl and senior Jodi Lindner also had game-highs, with eight rebounds each.

    “We played really well, considering a lot of players hadn’t been in this situation before,” Englund said. “We are continually getting better and are showing everyone we have gotten better. By February we hope to show everyone that we are one of the best teams.”

    As the Blugolds take a win on the road, several important road games remain this season. With four road games and three home games left in the conference season, victory on the road is key, as it may secure the women’s basketball team at the top of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) rankings. The Blugolds are currently ranked third – in a three-way tie with UW-River Falls and UW-Stout – in the WIAC and will battle head-to-head with WIAC teams for the remainder of the season.

    “It’s a close race near the top of the conference this year, with everyone having at least two losses, and we’re right in the mix,” Mesick said. “Now that we start to play teams for a second time, we have to learn from the first game and improve in order to separate ourselves in the second half of the conference season and rise closer to the top.”

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    Lady Blugolds narrowly beat Eagles