Keri Carollo knew coming into this season that her UW-Whitewater women’s basketball team had some big shoes to fill.
Fifteen games into the season, the Warhawks are still a work in progress.
Saturday’s Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game against visiting UW-La Crosse was the latest example.
The Warhawks scored just two points in the second quarter, nearly rallied all the way back from a 12-point halftime deficit in the third and eventually lost 60-49.
Whitewater fell to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in the WIAC. La Crosse continued its impressive season, improving to 14-1 and 3-1.
“When we lost our three seniors last year, those three had basically started all four years, and so really we’re just still trying to find a way to fill that void and have that strong of a character to step up,” Carollo said. “In the post, we’re OK. But our perimeter game is kind of up and down. And that perimeter game is so important in this conference.”
Whitewater went just 1 of 15 from the field in the second quarter, falling behind 27-15 by halftime.
“It’s tough when you get yourself backed into a corner,” Carollo said. “La Crosse did a really nice job of getting the shot clock late into the possession and then knocking down shots. That’s really demoralizing, especially if you’re working hard and doing a good job and they’re making shots right in your face.
“They’re a good team, very efficient.”
Carollo turned to a full-court press coming out of the break, and the Warhawks quickly got themselves right back into the game. La Crosse turned the ball over four times in its first five possessions of the half, and the Warhawks got within six, 27-21.
UW-Whitewater, which went 10 of 16 from the field in the third quarter, eventually got back within a point, 36-35, with a little more than a minute left.
But the Eagles’ Emma Gamoke buried a 3-pointer at the other end to help make sure her team never relinquished its lead.
“We knew they would pressure us and that they could be kind of wild with it and try to make us turn it over real fast,” said La Crosse junior Delaney Schoenenberger, a Janesville Craig graduate who scored four points. “We kept it composed. And once we did, we got good, open shots.”
Up 45-43, Schoenenberger drove into the lane and hit a short pull-up jumper with about five minutes remaining.
The Warhawks—who turned the ball over 21 times—twice got within three points in the final four minutes, but La Crosse scored immediately both times to make sure Whitewater never got a chance to tie.
Beginning with Schoenenberger’s bucket, La Crosse scored at least one point on its next seven consecutive possessions to salt the game away.
“We hit some clutch shots,” Schoenenberger said. “We practice those. We’re very young but have all the confidence in the world. I love this team, love the coaches. It’s awesome.”
UW-Whitewater will continue to search for a similar feeling as the WIAC season rolls on. The Warhawks play at UW-Oshkosh on Wednesday.
UW-LA CROSSE 60, UW-WHITEWATER 49
La Crosse (60)—Higgins 4-0-8, Gamoke 3-2-9, Craig 7-1-18, Schoenenberger 2-0-4, Rezin 1-0-3, Kramer 2-7-11, Coulthart 2-1-7. Totals: 21-11-60.
Whitewater (49)—Freckman 4-3-11, S. Schumacher 5-0-10, Conley 1-0-2, Raeder 3-0-6, E. Schumacher 2-0-6, Kieres 1-0-2, Taylor 3-0-6, Corcoran 2-1-6. Totals: 22-4-49
La Crosse 18 9 14 19—60
Whitewater 13 2 22 12—49
3-point goals—La Crosse 7 (Craig 3, Coulthart 2, Gamoke, Rezin), Whitewater 3 (E. Schumacher 2, Corcoran). Free throws missed—La Crosse 6, Whitewater 4. Total fouls—La Crosse 14, Whitewater 20. Fouled out—E. Schumacher