The trademark of success for UW-La Crosse’s women’s basketball team isn’t exciting:
Grind every second of the shot clock down on offense, and deny easy baskets on defense.
No. 14-ranked UW-Whitewater was an unwilling participant in the Eagles’ methodical clinic down the stretch of their Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle Saturday.
After the Warhawks’ relentless full-court press helped them take a two-point lead, La Crosse calmly scored seven straight points to help close out a gritty 66-62 victory in WIAC action.
Whitewater High graduate Brooke Trewyn scored a game-high 23 points, including four 3-pointers, in a losing cause for Whitewater (14-3, 4-2), which fell out of first place with the disappointing loss.
“Down the stretch we fouled too much and gave them too many free throws, and we didn’t shoot the ball as well as we could have,” UW-Whitewater coach Keri Carollo said. “It’s disappointing because I felt like we were the better team that just didn’t execute as well.”
The Eagles’ clutch execution stunned the home crowd, which expected the Warhawks to close the game out after a 12-2 run gave Whitewater a 57-55 lead with 2:23 left.
La Crosse then stormed back with seven straight points to lead 62-57 with 50 seconds left.
“We knew that the press was coming at some point in the game, so in one of our timeouts we took a deep breath and said that we got this,” said Janesville Craig graduate Annie Schumacher, who finished with five points in 13 minutes. “We have stuff in our back pocket to use, so let’s use it.”
Warhawks senior Andrea Meinert answered with two free throws to cut the deficit to 62-59 with 27 seconds to play. The Eagles, however, didn’t let up after that and closed out the game with four clutch free throws.
“It was one of our keys for the game to push the tempo, because they like to slow it down and walk it up the court,” Warhawks guard Malia Smith said. “We just didn’t finish strong at the end of the game.”
Whitewater started the game strong, grabbing an early 8-1 lead in the first quarter. But the Warhawks lost their offensive rhythm after that as La Crosse outscored the Warhawks 27-14 the rest of the half to lead 28-22 at break.
“In our half-court game, we move the ball around and don’t take bad shots and create for each other,” said Janesville Craig product Delaney Schoenenberger, who had 11 points. “Defensively we try to get shot-clock violations and play 30 seconds of defense.”
La Crosse continued to control game tempo throughout the third quarter before Whitewater’s press helped speed up the game in the fourth quarter. That set up La Crosse’s clutch response and victory.
LA CROSSE 66, WHITEWATER 62
La Crosse (11-6, 4-2 WIAC)—DeNoyer 5-4-14; Craig 5-1-13; Nelson 4-3-11; Schoenenberger 3-3-11; Kramer 1-4-7; Schumacher 2-0-5; Marks 1-1-3; Johnson 0-1-1; Karge 0-1-1. Totals 21-45 18-25 66.
Whitewater (14-3, 4-2 WIAC)—Trewyn 9-1-23; Meinert 4-3-11; Smith 3-0-7; Conley, 3-0-7; Raeder 2-0-4; S. Schumacher 2-0-4; Freckmann 2-0-4; Foster 1-0-2. Totals 26-4-62.
UW-La Crosse 12 16 19 19—66
UW-Whitewater 14 8 21 19—62
3-point goals—La Crosse 6 (Craig 2; Schoenenberger 2; Kramer; Schumacher), Whitewater 6 (Trewyn 4-8; Smith; Conley). Total fouls—La Crosse 15, Whitewater 23. Missed free throws—La Crosse 7, Whitewater 4. Fouled out—Marks, Smith.