Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Women’s Basketball: Sweet Sixteen Appearance for ‘Hawks, First since 2007-08


By Kevin Cunningham


After two 20-point victories, the Warhawks women’s basketball team has advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament.

On Friday, March 1, the ’Hawks defeated Wisconsin Lutheran College 68-48 in the first round. The Warriors were led by senior point guard Shavon Dillon all year. She averaged 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Dillon started the game on fire, scoring nine of the team’s first 11 points. Warhawks career steals leader, junior point guard Kaitlyn Thill, was asked to contain Dillon throughout the game.

“I was a little timid at first,” Thill said. “But I knew that we had to stop her right hand, and if we did that, she wouldn’t be as much of a threat to us. She’s one of their best players and leading scorers, so we definitely had to stop her.”

After Dillon’s nine points in the game’s first six minutes, Thill and the rest of the ’Hawks’ defense held the senior standout scoreless the rest of the way. Midway through the first half, the team blew their lead open, going on an 18-3 run over a three minute stretch.

The ’Hawks never looked back, as the Warriors never came within single digits in the second half. Thill scored 12 points to go along with her two steals in the game. Senior center Cortney Kumerow led the team with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Junior guard Mary Merg also contributed 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field.

The second round matchup for the ’Hawks was against Carthage College. The Lady Reds came into the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 23 in the latest poll and come off of a 72-55 victory over No. 7 ranked Thomas More College.

Carthage head coach Tim Bernero said the press that his team would face against UW-Whitewater was different than the pressure they saw from Thomas More. In addition, Bernero expressed his optimism that his team would fare well against UW-W’s press.

Not even six minutes into the ’Hawks’ second round game, the team found themselves up 11-3 thanks to their pressure. During the opening few minutes, the Lady Reds committed five turnovers. The Lady Reds’ top two scorers, Cailee Corcoran and Stephanie Kuzmanic, so far this season were kept in check throughout the game, combining for only nine points.

By the end of the first half, the scoring duo of Cailee Corcoran and Stephanie Kuzmanic combined for four points. The ’Hawks led at the half 32-25 with nine different players scoring. Leading the way in scoring in the first half was freshman guard Abbie Reeves.

The closest the Lady Reds got to the Warhawks the rest of the game was with 19:33 remaining when the ’Hawks were up by seven. The team ended up shooting 52 percent from the field in the second half, which was the key to its 71-51 victory.

The entire bench came up big for the ’Hawks, with starters Thill, Kumerow and Lisa Palmer each receiving four fouls a piece at game’s end. Reeves led the way off the bench, with 16 points, the most for either side.

Carthage College is located in Kenosha. Reeves went to Westosha Central High School, which is located in Kenosha County. Bernero said that he recruited Reeves heavily to go to Carthage College.

“I used to go and watch them [Carthage] all the time growing up,” Reeves said. “I know him [Bernero] really well because I’d go and work out there. It definitely means a lot for me to play well against them because he obviously knows who I am as a player. It was pretty awesome just being able to get in, play and step up.”

As a freshman, Reeves said she did not know exactly what to expect out of the NCAA Tournament environment, but she was confident in not only herself, but in her team’s abilities.

“We expect to win every game,” Reeves said. “We take it game by game and it was a great feeling being able to play at home.”

With 16 teams remaining in the field of 64, and four teams in each of the four regions left, host sites were chosen Sunday, March 3 and UW-Whitewater was selected as one of them.

At 5 p.m. on Friday, March 8, Hope College (29-1) will face the University of Saint Thomas (Minn.) (25-5). At 7 p.m. on Friday, March 8, the ’Hawks (24-6) will take on Simpson College (28-2). The winners of Friday’s games will meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, to determine who will reach the Final Four on March 15 and 16 at Hope College, in Holland, Mich. Each of the three games will be at Kachel Gym.

Simpson College comes into the Sweet Sixteen round as the No. 10 ranked team after defeating the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 88-84. ’Hawks head coach Keri Carollo said she did not know too much about the team, but was aware of Simpson’s tradition and recent success.

“It will be a fun game,” Carollo said. “They play an up-tempo style and we’ve played Simpson in the past. They’re going to get up and down and really get after it. We’re excited to have this opportunity.”

History has the chance to repeat itself for the Warhawks this weekend. The last time the ’Hawks made it to the Final Four was the 2007-08 season. The team played Simpson that year in the Sweet Sixteen round and defeated the Storm 96-69 at Kachel Gym.

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Founded 1901
Women’s Basketball: Sweet Sixteen Appearance for ‘Hawks, First since 2007-08