Stevens Point stuns Warhawk women
Carollo wants all the help she can get now that Whitewater’s NCAA Division III tournament fate is in the hands of the selection committee.
Stevens Point turned back a 13-point halftime deficit and stunned the Warhawks, 68-64, in the WIAC tournament championship game here Saturday afternoon.
Cassie Bandow led the Pointers with 14 points, while Josi Schultz added 13, including nine in the second half to help Stevens Point (21-6) earn the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Stevens Point’s clutch victory may have been the only option in keeping its season alive after the Pointers finished second to Whitewater in the WIAC regular season.
“We now have taken the committee’s subjective view out of it. We’re going to the NCAA tournament,” Pointer coach Shirley Egner said.
“Us and Whitewater came into this game both at 20-6, so one team was going to have seven losses, and from my past experience with the committee that’s a lot of losses to get an at-large bid.”
That’s a freighting message for Whitewater (20-7), which won’t learn its NCAA tournament fate until Monday afternoon.
“The hard part of this is that we don’t know,” Carollo said of her team’s NCAA tournament fate. “It’s up to the committee now, which is unfortunate because you never want to put yourself in that position.”
Whitewater put itself in that agonizing position by scoring just two points in a crucial four-minute stretch of the game.
Meanwhile, Stevens Point took full advantage, posting a 13-2 run that gave the Pointers their first lead of the game and a 64-59 lead with 36 seconds left.
Whitewater cut the lead to 66-64 on Nicole Bundy’s three free throws with three seconds to play, but Andrea Flease put the game away with two free throws on the ensuing possession.
“You got to credit our kids and their resiliency and that they fought back,” Egner said. “It was two completely different halves for us.”
The Warhawks indeed played the better in the first half. Whitewater took advantage of the Pointers’ 15 first-half turnovers and jumped out to a 39-26 halftime lead. Bundy and Heidi Sonntag closed out the half with consecutive three-pointers to put Whitewater in control.
Bundy finished with a game-high 24 points, while Sonntag had 14 and Cortney Kumerow scored in 19.
But the Warhawks failed to carry their intensity into the second half and eventually lost their lead for good.