EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Despite never trailing over the first 37 minutes of tonight's WIAC Semifinal contest against UW-Whitewater, the 16th-ranked UW-Eau Claire women's basketball team came up just short 57-53 to the 23rd-ranked Warhawks on Ken Anderson Court at Zorn Arena tonight.
The Blugolds started the game quickly and built a 12-point lead (19-7) just over seven minutes into the game. The Warhawks had trouble shooting the entire first half, going just 8-for-34 (23.5 percent) from the floor as the Blugolds held a 28-23 lead at halftime.
Eau Claire opened the second half well and found its way to a nine-point lead (39-30) five minutes into the half. But over the next eight minutes, Whitewater outscored the Blugolds 15-6 to tie the game for the first time of the night at 45 points apiece.
While the Blugolds got back up by six points with a 6-0 run following the first tie, Whitewater used a 6-0 run of its own to tie the game at 51. The Warhawks then took their first lead of the night with just over two minutes remaining and outscored the Blugolds 5-2 over the final two minutes.
With less than 15 seconds remaining and Whitewater leading 55-53, the Blugolds had an opportunity to tie or win the game, but turned the ball over for the 28th time and Whitewater hit two final free throws to win by four.
Despite outshooting the Warhawks 40.9 percent (18-for-44) to 27.3 percent (18-for-66), the Blugolds were plagued by turnovers as they finished with a season-high 28. Whitewater scored 31 points off Blugold turnovers while Eau Claire scored just five points off 11 Warhawk turnovers.
Ellen Plendl (Sr.-Chippewa Falls, Wis./McDonell) recorded her 15th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and leading the game with 17 rebounds. She also had a game-high seven blocks to give her 107 for the season, a WIAC single-season record.
Callie Halama (Sr.-Independence, Wis.) finished the game leading all scorers with 19 points.
The Blugolds, who are 20-6 on the season, will now wait to see if they advance to the NCAA playoffs. The selection announcement will come Monday beginning at 1:30 p.m.