EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com)- The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team opened Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) play Saturday afternoon, losing to UW-Whitewater, 67-41.
Eau Claire scored the first basket of the game, but the two teams would end the first quarter tied at eight. The second period remained tight through the first few minutes, but a scoring run for the Warhawks halfway through the quarter helped them build an initial lead. Whitewater would enter the break with a 33-22 lead.
Jessie Ruden (Fr.-Rochester, MN/John Marshall) was the leading scorer in the first half for the Blugolds with eight points. She hit a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter, the only two in the half for Eau Claire.
A layup from Katie Essen (Jr.-Farmington, MN/Rosemount) started Eau Claire on the right track to begin the second half. They were able to cut into the Whitewater lead, getting it down to six points with five minutes remaining in the quarter. However, the offense struggled down the stretch, only managing one more basket in the third period.
The Blugold defense had a great fourth quarter, holding the Warhawks to 4-15 (27%) field goal shooting. They also out-rebounded Whitewater in the period, with 14, five of them on offense. It just wasn't enough to mount the full comeback in the final ten minutes.
The leading scorer on the day for Eau Claire was Hallee Hoeppner (Sr.-Winona, MN), who finished the afternoon with nine points. Hoeppner was also terrific on defense, recording four of their 12 steals on the day. The Blugolds can feel good about the way they controlled the glass, as three different players had at least six rebounds, including Hoeppner, Anna Graaskamp (Sr.-Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) and Elli Carver (So.-Andover, MN/Coon Rapids).
The loss leaves UWEC 5-6 overall and now 0-1 in conference action. They'll return to Zorn Arena Wednesday, January 8th to take on UW-Stout. The game will tip off at 6 PM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app from your mobile device.