By Kali Schmieding and Justin St. Peter
Dec. 9, 2015
After missing last year’s NCAA tournament, the Warhawks women’s basketball team said they hope to make it back to back to the ‘big dance.’
Junior guard Andrea Olsen believes it is possible.
“We really take pride in our goal to win every game we play on our home floor,” Olsen said. “We are also aiming to win conference and the conference tournament. We obviously want to get a bid into the end of the year tournament and go as far as winning a National Championship. Having fun along the way is crucial too.”
It appears the rest of the team thinks that is possible as well after winning the first six games of the year by double digits.
The 20th-ranked squad relies on senior leadership to get the job done.
Senior guard Abbie Reeves, guard Jaya Perkins, guard/forward Maddie Bare, forward Lisa Palmer, and center Emily Jensen all play significant minutes, as the team did not have a single senior graduate last year.
Palmer played only 17 games last year due to injury and looks to improve on her junior campaign where she averaged 7.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Reeves led the team in scoring and three point shooting percentage, going 41.5 percent beyond the arc en route to 10.7 points per game.
Sophomore guard Brooke Trewyn also returns after a prolific freshman year that saw her second on the team in scoring, averaging an even 10 points per game.
The ’Hawks will be led by head coach Keri Carollo, who has compiled a 247-120 career record in her 14 seasons at the helm of the Warhawks. Under Carollo’s command, the ’Hawks missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight years last season.
If performances like the ’Hawks victory 81-65 over Elmhurst College (4-3) are any indication, UW-W could be well on its way to making it back to the NCAA tournament.
Olsen led the team in scoring with 21 points and posted four assists.
“I was pretty satisfied with how I played,” Olsen said. “I haven’t played the amount or contributed as much as I did towards a game in a long time. It’s really a great feeling when you can see the hard work you put in pay off.”
The ’Hawks forced the Bluejays to commit 14 turnovers in the second half. Whitewater also out-rebounded Elmhurst 37-30.
Sophomore forward Andrea Meinert provided a spark plug off the bench with 15 points on 7-11 shooting from the floor.
Palmer and Trewyn had eight points and six rebounds apiece, and Perkins knocked down two three pointers and had eight points on the night.
“I think we started a little slow in both halves, but we really came together especially in the end,” Olsen said. “We definitely could have played better defensively by not giving up so many easy baskets. However, we shot extremely well are continuing to learn how to play and work together to take teams down.”
The ’Hawks started to pull away in the second half by shooting 48 percent from the field and 75 percent from three point range.
The team has yet to play a conference game and will open WIAC play at home against UW-Stout on Jan. 6.
In the 2014-15 season, the ’Hawks were 8-8 in conference to go along with the team’s 13-13 overall record.
UW-Oshkosh and UW-River Falls are also still undefeated this season. The ’Hawks have been picked by WIAC coaches and athletic personnel to finish second in the league behind UW-Oshkosh.
“Most of the conference games will be pretty competitive,” Olsen said. “Our toughest battle will be against Oshkosh who is ranked number one in the conference, while we sit at number 2. I believe we can bring it to them since we accomplished that last year and we both have the same players returning.”
UW-W will continue play at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 at Coe College in Iowa.