By Travis Nyhus, UWEC Sports Information
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) –The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team got back on the winning side of things by defeating the UW-Platteville Pioneers with strong defensive work in the second half on Saturday in Platteville.
The Blugolds quickly found themselves down 6-0 after missing their first 11 shots from the field. The drought ended 3:34 into the game as Kelsey Bakken (So. – Marshall, WI) got Eau Claire on the board.
Trailing much of the first quarter, Hallee Hoeppner (So. – Winona, MN) gave the Blugolds their first lead with about three minutes to play in the quarter, after a forced turnover from Katie Essen (Fr. –Farmington, MN/Rosemount).
Hoeppner then buried a triple, her second of the game, two minutes later. The Blugolds would end the first quarter up 18-14.
Platteville opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and the Eau Claire lead was cut to one. On the next Platteville possession, the Pioneers took back the lead.
Brook Harris (So. – Green Bay, WI/Bay Port) then went on a quick 4-0 run herself to pull back ahead 22-19.
Eau Claire opened their lead to six after a make from deep from Caryn Donahue (So. – Rockton, IL/Hononegah).
After that, Platteville went on an 11-0 run and led 32-27 with 2:12 left before the half.
Over the next two minutes the Blugolds outscored the Pioneers 8-2 and took back the lead by half 35-34, after two free throws from Maddie Dunathan (Fr. – Hortonville, WI).
Both teams traded baskets out of locker room, until Donahue made another 3-pointer. This one put Eau Claire up five approaching the halfway mark of the third quarter.
The Donahue three was the start of an 8-2 stretch that ended with a triple from Dunathan. After three quarters of play the Blugolds were up seven.
Eau Claire had another run in them to begin the final quarter. Two Dunathan makes at the line gave the Blugolds a 16-point advantage with the help of an 11-2 run.
Eau Claire continued their strong work on the defensive side as they kept their double-digit lead the rest of the way.
The Blugolds held Platteville to only 17 second half points as they only made 7 of 30 attempts (23.3 percent) after the break.
Eau Claire shot 23 of 71 (32.4 percent) from the field and made seven 3-pointers for the game. The Blugolds forced 20 turnovers and had 35 points from the bench.
Donahue was the story in the win, scoring a career-high 16 points on four 3-pointers. Hoeppner was next in line with 11 points.
Both Anna Graaskamp (So. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) and Essen joined Donahue and Hoeppner in double figures. Graaskamp had a game-high 11 rebounds and Essen grabbed eight boards.
Dunathan scored eight points and had seven assists as Eau Claire had 15 assists on 23 made field goals.
The Blugolds (16-7, 8-4) return to Zorn Arena on Wednesday for senior night at 7 p.m. when Eau Claire takes on UW-River Falls.
Follow the action this season on Blugold Game Day.