EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – While the UW-Eau Claire women's basketball team stuck with 17th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University for a majority of the evening, the Blugolds let the game slip away as they fell 78-69 in the championship game of their own Tip-Off Tournament at Zorn Arena today.
Illinois Wesleyan (2-0) hit the opening basket and steadily built a lead to get up by as much as eight points in the first half.
With less than five minutes left in the first, the Blugolds (2-1) went on a 10-2 run over about a three minute stretch to tie the game at 33-33. Over the final two minutes of the half, the teams exchanged baskets, and while Eau Claire led by one point with less than 40 seconds to play, a final basket by Illinois Wesleyan put the Titans up 37-36 at halftime.
In the second half, the Blugolds and Titans continued their back and forth battle and the Blugolds found themselves up by two points (53-51) with less than nine minutes to play. But over the final eight and a half minutes, the Titans outscored the Blugolds 27-16 and got up by as much as 10 points late in the half.
Sarah Bingea (Jr.-Delano, Minn.) led the Blugolds with 18 points while Callie Halama (Sr.-Independence, Wis.) finished with a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). Nicole Christianson (Sr.-Chetek, Wis.) added 15 points for Eau Claire.
Bingea and Ellen Plendl (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./McDonell) were named the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the championship game.
The Blugolds led the game with 36 rebounds to 31 for Illinois Wesleyan. The Titans outshot the Blugolds 45.3 percent (24-for-53) to 41.8 percent (23-for-55).
Tuesday the Blugolds will head to De Pere to face St. Norbert College. Action will get underway at 7 p.m.