Blugolds finish strong in second half against Pioneers

    UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball gets back on track with a win on Saturday

    More stories from Jessie Meyen


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    The Blugolds used a big second half, outscoring UW-Platteville 35-17, to earn their second win against the Pioneers this season.

    The Blugolds had a rough start, but ended up on top against UW-Platteville this past Saturday in Platteville. The Blugolds walked away with a 15-point lead.

    The Platteville Pioneers were up 6-0 while the Blugolds missed their first consecutive 11 shots from the field. As the game continued, Kelsey Bakken, a second-year guard, put Eau Claire in the game three minutes into the first quarter.

    Heading into the game, the Blugolds knew that Platteville wasn’t going to be an easy win. The Pioneers are known for winning on their home court and feeding off the crowd, said Head Coach Tonja Englund.

    “Platteville is a four-hour trip and it was one of our toughest road trips we’ve taken all year,” Englund said, “but our bench got us through the rough start.”

    Trying to catch up from the slow start, Hallee Hoeppner, a second-year guard, stepped up and put the Blugolds on top with about three minutes left in the first quarter. Katie Essen, a first-year center, also took part in the lead by forcing a turnover.

    Hoeppner added three more points to the Blugolds scoreboard two minutes later with her second three pointer of the game. The first quarter came to a close with Eau Claire up 18-14.

    Platteville demonstrated that Eau Claire wasn’t the only team that could score from downtown by opening the second quarter with a 3-pointer. The Blugolds lead was dropped to a measly point, until the Pioneers took the lead in the following possession.

    Brooke Harris, a second-year forward put Eau Claire back on top by putting up four straight points of her own, making the score 22-19.

    The Blugolds expanded their lead to six after Caryn Donahue, a second-year guard, scored from deep. She attributed her points to slowing things down offensively.

    “We had a lot of extra passes and we moved the ball back and forth from the inside to the outside to get off more shots,” Donahue said.

    With 2:12 left in the half, Platteville went on an 11-0 run which left the Blugolds with a five point deficit at 32-27.

    Over the next two minutes, the Blugolds went from defeated to victorious. They outscored the Pioneers 8-2 with the help of two free throws from Maddie Dunathan, a third-year point guard. Eau Claire held the lead 35-34, with both teams heading into the locker rooms.

    Commencing the start of the second half, both teams went up and down the court scoring baskets. It wasn’t until Donahue scored another 3-pointer that the game changed in the Blugolds favor.

    Eau Claire was up by five points, accredited to Donahue’s three which was the start of an 8-2 stretch that concluded in another triple from Dunathan.

    To start the final quarter of the game, Dunathan sank two free throws, giving the Blugolds a 16-point advantage over the Pioneers and kept the lead until the final buzzer.

    Englund said the game on Saturday highlighted a lot of players off the bench.

    “Our depth has taken us a long way and will hopefully continue to take us far,” said Englund.  “We have so many good young players; so, it’s nice to see them shine in big games.”

    Dunathan ended the game with eight points and seven assists while Donahue scored a career-high of 16 points with four 3-pointers.

    The Blugolds will return to Zorn Arena on Wednesday for senior night at 7 p.m. against UW-River Falls.