Women’s basketball continues an undefeated streak

    The Blugolds tallied two more victories over the weekend

    More stories from Scott Procter


    Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

    UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball has won by at least 14 points in every game this season, with the exception of their overtime victory a week ago.

    The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball win streak is up to five games after a pair of home victories this weekend. On Saturday, the Blugolds defeated Minnesota-Morris 76-50 then followed it up with a 71-57 victory over Saint Mary’s University (Minnesota) on Sunday.

    The home crowd in Zorn Arena was in full effect this weekend and made for an electric atmosphere, said Brooke Harris, a sophomore forward.

    “Our home games truly feel like an event,” Harris said. “We have the most dedicated fans in this community, which makes it extremely fun to play in our gym.”

    A fast start for Eau Claire set them up for success on Saturday as they jumped out with a 20-8 lead after one quarter of play. This lead would never be relinquished or fall below 14 points throughout the night.

    Despite a better second quarter from Minnesota-Morris, the Cougars still trailed 38-21 at the half. The Blugolds never wavered in their solid play and scored 19 points in both the third and fourth quarters on their way to their fourth straight win.

    Hallee Hoeppner, a sophomore guard, led all scorers with 15 points, while Harris added 12 of her own. Anna Graaskamp, a sophomore forward, stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, a team-high six rebounds and five assists.

    Defensive intensity was apparent all night as the Blugolds forced 19 turnovers, highlighted by three steals from Kelsey Bakken, a sophomore guard. The Cougars were also held to just 35.2 percent shooting from the field and 31.6 percent from the three.

    Harris said the team is offense-oriented with many great shooters, so defense is an area that gets a lot of focus.

    “A lot of those forced turnovers happened because we knew the personnel and really dug into the scouting report to prepare us on the defensive end,” Harris said. “There’s always an emphasis on defensive intensity.”

    On Sunday afternoon, the Blugolds once again wasted no time and went on a 10-0 run to start the game against St. Mary’s. The lead would swell to 12 as the Blugolds took a 33-21 advantage into halftime.

    Maddie Dunathan, a junior guard, scored a three-pointer that sparked another run for Eau Claire as they led by 20 with 6:51 to go in the third quarter — their largest lead of the game. St. Mary’s cut the lead down to 15 heading into the fourth quarter but failed to get much closer to the Blugolds.

    Graaskamp led the way for Eau Claire, totaling 18 points along with six rebounds and three blocks. Bakken and Hoeppner both finished in double digits with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

    Harris grabbed a team-high nine rebounds while Dunathan set up her teammates all game to finish with a game-high nine assists. The Blugolds shot 42.9 percent from the field and an efficient 50 percent from behind the arc.

    At this point in the season last year, the Blugolds sat at 2-3, a day-and-night difference from their undefeated record thus far this season. Dunathan said she credits the improvement to a change of team atmosphere.

    “Everyone’s motivation is pretty high this year compared to last year,” Dunathan said. “We have really good team chemistry this year and that helps us a lot on the court.”

    Eau Claire will look to protect their unblemished record on the road at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as they take on the Saint Benedict Blazers in St. Joseph, Minnesota.