By Travis Nyhus, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team fell in their regular season finale on Senior Night in Zorn Arena Saturday night, losing to UW-Whitewater by a score of 68-56.
The Blugolds came out with authority to start this one. Kayla Hanley (Jr. – Chippewa Falls, WI) knocked down a three on the first offensive possession and then Anna Graaskamp (Fr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) scored on consecutive attempts. Two minutes in the Blugolds led 7-0.
Another score by Graaskamp gave Eau Claire an 11-4 lead three minutes into the first quarter. Whitewater would respond though going on an 8-0 run to take their first lead. At the end of one quarter of play the Blugolds had an 18-17 advantage.
Eau Claire scored first to open the second period and then they would hit back-to-back threes. First it was Jenni LaCroix (Jr. – Verona, WI) and then Hanley hit her second from deep. This put the Blugolds up 26-20.
Whitewater went on a 12-2 run from there to close the period and lead 32-28 at halftime. Hanley and Graaskamp each had eight points at the break. The Blugolds shot 11-24 (45.8 percent) from the field midway through the game.
The Warhawks extended their lead to 11 just a minute into the third period. LaCroix would do her part to bring the Blugolds back. Two shots from beyond the arc from her and Eau Claire was back within four, 39-35.
A Maddie Dunathan (So. – Hortonville, WI) triple with 3:48 left in the third narrowed the score to 41-40. It was Bree Meier (Sr. – Lakeville, MN/South), one of the four players recognized on Senior Night, who tied it up at 45 as she pulled up from deep and connected. Whitewater entered the final period with a 47-43 lead over Eau Claire.
The Warhawks had a 7-1 run to start the fourth, which gave them a 10-point advantage. Eau Claire had one last attempt to get back in it as Meier made two threes in a little over two minutes of play that got Eau Claire within six, 60-54 with 1:43 remaining in the game.
Whitewater would close it out making six of eight free throws down the stretch to take the 68-56 win in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
Eau Claire shot 20-49 (40.8 percent) overall and hit half of their 20 three point shots. Meier lead the team with 14 points, while Graaskamp had 12. Arien Brennan (Sr. – Hayward, WI) in her final game at Zorn Arena contributed six points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Blugolds (13-12, 7-7) have concluded their regular season, but are back in action for the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship (presented by Culver's) when they travel to La Crosse Wednesday night starting at 7 p.m. for a quarterfinal matchup.
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.