UW-Whitewater head coach Keri Carollo can’t identify the exact moment when her team started to click.
But the Warhawks’ dramatic turnaround over the last six games is undeniable.
The UW-W women’s basketball team has now won six straight games after coming up clutch in a 78-70 overtime victory over first-place UW-Oshkosh on Monday night.
Senior guard Emily Schumacher led the way with 22 points, while Whitewater High graduate Sarah Schumacher had 17 to help propel Whitewater to within one game of Oshkosh in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference race.
“The last few games we’ve had some really close games, so we’ve been really talking about executing down the stretch,” said Carollo, who also got 17 and 14 points from Camri Conley and Olivia Freckmann, respectively. “It’s not only getting defensive stops, but it’s also making good decisions and getting shots every possession.”
The victory gave the Warhawks a season sweep of the Titans (18-3, 8-2 WIAC). Both Whitewater (14-7, 7-3) and UW-La Crosse are now a game out of first place.
Whitewater’s improvement was on full display in the final minutes of regulation Monday.
Trailing 63-57, Whitewater scored six straight points behind two Freckmann free throws and a pair of Conley layups to knot it at 63 with 35 seconds left.
“I had all the confidence in the world that we were going to put ourselves in a situation to win,” Carollo said. “It’s just nice to see them rise to the occasion and get it done.”
Each team had a chance to break the tie in the final seconds of regulation but failed to sink open 3-point attempts before time expired.
From there, Whitewater seized control in overtime with eight straight points to lead 71-63 with 1:50 left.
Oshkosh got as close as three, 71-68, with a minute left on Nikki Arneson’s nifty finger roll and foul but couldn’t get any closer. Whitewater sank seven free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
“I think we came out with more heart in overtime,” Emily Schumacher said. “And that was what helped us.”
Both teams showed defensive intensity in a first half that featured a pair of second-quarter scoring droughts.
The Titans went nearly seven minutes without a basket to help Whitewater pull ahead 28-24. The Warhawks then went scoreless in the final six minutes of the half but still maintained a 28-26 halftime lead.
“It felt like it was the Super Bowl all over again with both teams hitting droughts,” Carollo said.
The Titans got their offense rolling first in the second half, putting together a 15-5 third-quarter run to lead 48-42 after three quarters. Oshkosh built its lead to as many as nine in the fourth before Sarah Schumacher scored six straight to get back within three.
The game remained close the rest of the way before Whitewater grabbed the upper hand late in regulation and never relinquished momentum in overtime.
“We really have a good thing going right now with lots of momentum,” Sarah Schumacher said. “We are really excited to end the season strong.”
The Warhawks will attempt to keep adding to their winning streak when they play at UW-Stevens Point on Wednesday.
WHITEWATER 78, OSHKOSH 70 (OT)
UW-Oshkosh (70)—Arneson 10-3-28, Samuels 9-5-23, Campbell 1-3-5, Pustina 1-2-4, Porath 3-0-6, Rabas 1-0-2, Rueth 1-0-2. Totals: 26-13-70.
UW-Whitewater (78)—E. Schumacher 7-4-22, S. Schumacher 7-3-17, Conley 5-6-16, Freckmann 5-4-14, Raeder 3-0-6, Corcoran 1-0-3. Totals: 28-17-78.
UW-Oshkosh 19 7 22 15 7—70
UW-Whitewater 18 10 14 21 15—78
3-point goals—Oshkosh 5 (Arneson 5), Whitewater 5 (E. Schumacher 4, Corcoran). Free throws missed—Oshkosh 4, Whitewater 9. Total fouls—Oshkosh 22, Whitewater 18. Fouled out—Arneson.