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 basketball trounces Stevens Point

    Posted at 12:00 am 2/12/10

    Senior Night and the Pink Zone fundraiser are always big events for the UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team. So it was only fitting the Blugolds ended the evening – and their last home game of the season – in a big way.

    “We came out and played for our seniors,” sophomore Laura Olson said. “We just knew we had something to play for. “We had the home crowd on our side and we really came out focused. ”

    And it certainly showed in the way the team played. Olson led the team’s scoring and notched a career-high 29 points en route to an 80-67 win over UW-Stevens Point.

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    The Pointers came into the game atop the WIAC standings, but it was Eau Claire who controlled the game. Freshman Sarah Bingea nailed a jumper to start the scoring just under 40 seconds into the game. The team never relinquished the lead, and even increased it to double digits with about 13 minutes left in the period.

    “We just came out with that fire and intensity that we needed,” senior Jodi Lindner said. “The start of the game – that’s when we get the momentum and it just carries on throughout the game.”

    The Blugolds entered the second period firing as well, going up 44-29 just over a minute into the second period. Eau Claire continued to control the play, building their lead to a game-high 20 points at times. When the final buzzer sounded, the Blugolds were on top.

    Coach Tonja Englund said the strong play of the team’s guards was a key factor in the win, adding several other players stepped up and played with confidence too. All together, the team played with quality, she said.

    “It was good basketball,” Englund said. “I saw a team that really dug deep.”

    While Olson’s 29 points – including six 3-pointers – led the Blugolds, junior Hannah Mesick and Bingea also racked up 17 and 14 points for Eau Claire, respectively. For rebounds, sophomore Ellen Plendl and Mesick each nabbed 10, earning Mesick a double-double.

    The win improves the Blugolds’ record to 7-6 in the WIAC and 8-14 overall. Stevens Point entered the game with the best record in the conference.

    Winning against the team atop the standings gave the Blugolds a boost, Olson said.

    “All the games here on out are all big, but it definitely feels like it’s a good win to beat the top team in the conference,” she said.

    The end of the game also meant the finish of the last event at home for the two seniors on the team, Lindner and Ali Gillberg. Englund said the two women motivated the players to give it their all on the court.

    “Jodi Lindner and Ali Gillberg are some of the best players I’ve ever coached,” Englund said. “They’ve been wonderful role models. And for them to have this tonight is the reason I think our team really stepped up.”

    The Blugolds hit the road for their last three games of the regular season. The first stop will be at UW-Whitewater on Saturday. Englund said while the teams the Blugolds have to face will be a challenge, getting used to the travel may be a good thing.

    “Right now we just have to play with the idea that we’re just trying to stay alive,” she said. “I think if we get into the conference tournament, we’re probably going to have to travel anyway. So now is the best time to play the best basketball we can on the road.”

    If the team can make it into the tournament – it’s currently sixth in the standings – the competition better be ready, Englund said.

    “I think that if we’re in, we can win three games in a row,” she said. “I don’t think anybody wants to play us right now.”

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