Johanna Taylor grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up for a bucket to open the fourth quarter.
The play gave the UW-Whitewater women’s basketball team a five-point lead and was indicative of the way the Warhawks’ second half went.
Though the game remained competitive, the advantage the Warhawks had with 6-foot-2 Taylor, 6-0 Aleah Grundahl and 6-1 Courtney Oomens against the visiting UW-Platteville front-court was the major factor of first-place Whitewater’s 67-52 WIAC victory.
Veronica Kieres scored six of her nine points during a 10-0 third-quarter run that erased a 10-point deficit. From there, the Warhawks were in control.
“We knew they were going to come out strong against us,” Kieres said. “We’re one of the top teams that they wanted to beat this year. With us being down (at halftime), we knew we had to come out strong and play our stuff.”
Kieres’ third basket during the run tied the game at 35-35 with 4 minutes, 56 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Whitewater’s size advantage was best displayed when Taylor and Grundahl each would post up—one on the elbow and the other on the block—to await an entry pass.
In addition, either player could set a screen for the guards to curl around. Grundahl suffered from foul trouble in the first half.
Warhawks coach Keri Carollo relied on the team’s reserves to keep the game manageable until the freshman post could return in the second half.
“She has an amazing IQ offensively and defensively,” Carollo said of Grundahl.
“We’re already down one post because (Abby Belschner) hurt her ankle and then with Aleah being down early, that changed things for us.
“I was just trying to get through that first half, but we were down five. It just changes things when she’s not on the floor because she is so smart.”
Taylor, who blocked seven shots, finished with a team-high 14 points, Grundahl had 11 and Oomens scored eight points for the sixth-ranked Warhawks (16-1, 6-0 WIAC) against the Pioneers (9-8, 1-5).
Much of the productivity in the post revolves around Grundahl’s court awareness both with the ball and without the ball.
“Ever since October when we started playing, we know each other and how we want to move with each other,” Taylor said. “I love playing with her, she’s a great offensive player, so it’s great to play with her.
“Her IQ for basketball is so high, so it’s easy to know where she’s going to move, where she’s going to cut, how she’s going to cut. It’s easy to play with her.”
The Pioneers built their initial lead in the second quarter when they outscored UW-Whitewater, 16-8. The difference in the quarter was two 3-pointers by Aspyn Stewart on consecutive possessions.
“We knew they set a lot of flare screens, so we practiced that a lot this week,” Kieres said. “We knew that was what their offense consisted of and that they had a lot of 3-point shooters. I felt like with us cheating to the flare and that they were going to skip pass it to that flare, that helped us a lot.”
UW-Platteville finished the game making only 3 of their 11 3-point attempts.
“I think we did a much better job defending the dribble (after giving up the early 3-pointers),” Carollo said. “We had to help a lot because we weren’t defending the dribble very well, which led to us having to rotate a lot. When a guard sinks on a rotation it leaves people wide open (to shoot 3-pointers). We had to defend the dribble better.”
The Warhawks did that and remain alone in first place.
UW-WHITEWATER 67, UW-PLATTEVILLE 52
UW-Platteville (52)—Domask 3 5-8 12, Heckert 2 0-4 4, Horstman 7 5-7 19, Emendorfer 0 1-4 1, Stewart 3 2-2 10, Clemons 0 2-2 2, Asche 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 15-29 52.
UW-Whitewater—Raeder 3 6-7 12, Schumacher 1 0-0 3, Kieres 4 1-2 9, Grundahl 5 1-2 11, Taylor 6 2-2 14, Corcoran 0 2-2 2, Simmons 1 0-0 2, Sto. Domingo 1 4-5 6, Oomens 3 2-2 8. Totals: 24 18-22 67.
Platteville 12 16 12 12—52
Whitewater 15 8 20 24—67
3-pointers—UWP 3 (Domask, Stewart 2); UWW 1 (Schumacher). Rebounds—UWP 42, UWW 37. Total fouls—UWP 21, UWW 22.