By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
MORRIS, Minn. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball fell just short a non-conference matchup with the Minnesota-Morris Cougars on Saturday afternoon, 76-78.
Hallee Hoeppner (Jr. – Winona, MN) paced the offense early, scoring 11 of the Blugolds' first 16 points. Six Blugold turnovers in the first kept the score close, as the quarter ended 20-20.
Kelsey Bakken (Jr. – Marshall, WI) buried three consecutive three-pointers during a 13-2 Eau Claire run early in the second quarter that gave the Blugolds a double-digit lead. Bakken totaled 15 points and 4 rebounds in the second quarter alone. After outscoring the Cougars 28-16 in the second, the Blugolds took a 48-36 lead into the half.
The Blugold offense cooled down after the break, as they shot just 3-12 (25 percent) in the third quarter after shooting 62.1 percent in the first half. Eau Claire led 61-54 heading into the final period.
The Cougars battled back throughout the half and took their first lead since the first quarter with 4:20 left in the game. A Cougar three-pointer with 1:43 left gave Morris a 74-70 lead. Maddie Dunathan (Sr. – Hortonville, WI) added two late layups but it wasn't enough as the Cougars held off the Blugolds and completed their comeback, after trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half.
Hoeppner scored 25 for the Blugolds, shooting 10-15 from the field. Bakken shot a perfect 3-3 from deep and recorded season-highs in both points and rebounds, with 23 and 13, respectively. Dunathan dished out 13 assists and added 9 points.
With the loss, The Blugolds are now 3-1 on the season, and will host Bethel University (Minn.) on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7:00 PM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app on your mobile device.