By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
WAVERLY, Iowa (Blugolds.com) – After trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team staged a late comeback and topped the 17th-ranked Wartburg Knights by a score of 72-67.
Wartburg jumped out to an early 12-5 lead, but the Blugolds responded with a 15-5 run of their own to close out the opening quarter with a three point lead.
A Hallee Hoeppner (Jr. – Winona, MN) layup on the opening possession of the second quarter extended the Blugold lead to five. The Knights responded with a pair of three-pointers to regain the lead, which they held for the rest of the half. Hoeppner scored nine of the Blugolds' 30 first-half points and grabbed nine first-half rebounds, as Wartburg took a 32-30 lead into the break.
A Wartburg layup at the 4:09 mark of the third quarter gave the Knight's their largest lead of the afternoon, 45-35. Five quick points from Hoeppner and a triple from Caryn Donahue (Jr. – Rockton, IL/Hononegah) brought the Blugolds within two points. The Knights took a 50-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
A pair of three-pointers put Wartburg up by nine points just over a minute into the final period. The Blugolds then held the Knights scoreless for nearly four minutes, while cutting the lead to one. A Kelsey Bakken (Jr. – Marshall, WI) three-pointer gave Eau Claire their first lead of the half. Two more baskets from Bakken and a layup from Kaycee Gierczak (Fr. – Green Bay, WI/Notre Dame) put the Blugolds ahead by six with 1:35 to play. Two free throws from Maddie Dunathan (Sr. – Hortonville, WI) with 14 seconds left put the Knights away for good, 72-67. The win snaps a 28-game home court winning streak for Wartburg.
As a team, Eau Claire shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half, after shooting just 35.1 percent in the first half. Hoeppner recorded her third double-double of the season, recording 17 points and 12 rebounds. Bakken filled the stats sheet with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Dunathan dished out 8 assists and added 15 points.