The women’s basketball team takes their seventh win of the season

    The UW-Eau Claire Blugolds remain undefeated, winning 68-64 against the Northwestern-St. Paul Eagles

    Taylor Reisdorf

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    March 25, 2020

    Photo by Sam Farley

    The Blugolds have been successful so far this season and are looking forward to the future.

    The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team achieved yet another win this past Saturday on their home court, out-scoring the Northwestern-St. Paul Eagles with a score of 68-64. The victory marks the team’s seventh consecutive win of the season, maintaining Eau Claire’s undefeated streak going into this week’s break.

    Being undefeated reflects the team’s growth from last year, Tonja Englund, head coach for the Blugolds, said. The Blugolds featured a handful of first-year starters last season, Englund said.

    “The girls are a year older, hungrier and more driven,” Englund said.

    The game started out with the Eagles on top, with a score of 5-2. However, the Blugolds were quick to recover. With 7:12 left in the first quarter, Anna Graaskamp, a sophomore forward, and Kelsey Bakken, a sophomore guard, scored to put Eau Claire ahead of Northwestern.

    Maddie Dunathan, a junior point guard, said Graaskamp has been a major asset to the team. Her performance on Saturday was especially notable, Dunathan said.

    “(Northwestern) sat in a zone, which we haven’t really played against much this year,” Dunathan said. “We have a really good post player, Anna Graaskamp, and she found a lot of gaps in the zone and really helped us scoring-wise.”

    Dunathan said the game was up and down, but that’s something the team aims for. They’ve applied a new strategy of a “faster-paced offense,” Dunathan said. A lot of the issues the team faced during Saturday’s game involved missing shots, and the team had to make up for that on the defensive end, Dunathan said.

    In the second quarter, the Blugolds had an 8-0 run, which resulted in a score of 19-12 just a minute into the period. By halftime, Eau Claire was ahead 28-23, with Graaskamp contributing 10 points and 5 rebounds.

    The crowd was buzzing with anticipation regarding the team’s potential, Englund said, and she said she thinks the band is a great addition to the atmosphere.

    “Playing at Zorn Arena is like nothing we experience on the road,” Englund said.

    The third period included a free throw by Graaskamp and a basket by Brooke Harris, a sophomore forward. With 5:41 left in the quarter, the Eagles made the score 34-29. Bakken was quick to retaliate with two baskets, one occurring after a snatch from the Eagles. Her efforts put the Blugolds ahead by nine points.

    Eau Claire remained on top with a score of 46-44 going into the last period. The score was evened out at 48 during the fourth quarter. However, the Blugolds pulled ahead after an 11-1 run, making the score 59-49 with 3:27 left in the game.

    The Eagles fought hard during the last quarter and had a run that put the Blugolds ahead by only three points with six seconds left in the game. Nonetheless, Eau Claire pulled off the win. Overall, the Blugolds shot 48.1 percent from the field, 21.1 percent from beyond the arc and 70.6 percent at the free throw line.

    Graaskamp led the team with a total of 25 points. Bakken was next with 10 points. She also led the team with eight rebounds and contributed three assists and three steals.

    Kayla Hanley, a senior forward, and Jenni LaCroix, a senior point guard, had notable performances from the bench. Eau Claire’s bench outscored the Eagles’ bench 23-6. Hanley had 11 points while LaCroix led the team in assists and had nine points.

    The focus in the near future will be turned to “cleaning things up,” rebounding and improving the team’s efforts on the defensive end, Dunathan said. Instead of preparing to go against other teams and their specific strategies, the Blugolds will look more at their own plays and what they can improve on as a team, Dunathan said.

    Englund said the upcoming break will be beneficial to the team’s progress. The Blugolds have played a lot of games in a short amount of time, she said, so having a slight break will help the team focus on what needs to be improved.

    Englund hopes the team will take the momentum that comes from being undefeated and use it moving forward, she said. Dunathan agreed with this and said she hopes that being undefeated will help build a home crowd.

    The team is enthusiastic and willing to put in the necessary work to keep growing, Englund said.

    “We’ve got a great team with great chemistry,” she said.