First-round loss to Mount Union leaves promising future

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Underdog stories are highly coveted by fans, and it’s easy to understand why.

The long rush of excitement finally came to an end for the No. 24 (D3hoops.com) women’s basketball team Friday, when they lost to No. 16 University of Mount Union, 69-55, at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky.

Megan Theun

Senior Dana Thompson led the way for the ’Hawks, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while junior guard Megan Theune added 10 points. For the Purple Raiders, sophomore point-guard Rosa LaMattina led the way with 17 points and four assists.

The ’Hawks had difficulty all game with defending the Purple Raiders’ small lineup and excellent perimeter shooting.

“Mount Union has really, really good shooters,” Theune said. “They just knocked down big shots and we couldn’t really answer.”

While the loss is certainly disappointing, the season the ’Hawks put together was truly remarkable, simply because preseason expectations were low. Their resiliency and focus led them to a second place finish in the WIAC and an NCAA tournament bid.

Although the ’Hawks had a tough time competing against UW-Stevens Point and fell to Mount Union, the ’Hawks are still proud of their accomplishments.

“The first thing coach said to us in the locker room was, ‘Take as much time as you need, but I want you girls to walk out of here with your heads held high because you had an amazing season,’” Theune said.

The ’Hawks entered the season with the daunting task of replacing their top three scorers from a year ago, but players stepped into new roles nicely.

“I thought that our incoming freshman and our juniors really stepped up, especially the kids that didn’t play much last year,” head coach Keri Carollo said. “I’m just overall extremely proud.”

All the ’Hawks can do now is to look to improve in the offseason and take another step forward next year.

Losing Thompson and senior Melissa Olsen hurts, but with the young talent this ’Hawk squad carries, it looks promising.

“I’m excited for next year,” Theune said.

A more experienced squad should also be a more dangerous one. With the Pointers losing a big part of their team to graduation, the ’Hawks will have a legitimate shot at a conference title.

Carollo certainly expects a big season next year.

“Now we have some experience, which helps, and they know what it takes now and I have very high expectations for them,” Carollo said.