Nationally ranked ’Hawks win third in a row

Feb. 3, 2016

By Josh Sinclair

The No. 17 Whitewater women’s basketball team combined a high-pressure defense with a couple of career-best performances to defeat UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls in a pair of WIAC games.

The first game the ’Hawks played was on Jan. 27 in Platteville. The Warhawks (16-3) held UW-Platteville to 31.6 percent shooting from the floor and forced 22 team turnovers with their full-court pressure defensive attack.

“We like to play our full court pressure to give us more opportunities to use our athleticism and get teams to play at our tempo,” head coach Keri Carollo said.

The Warhawks were led by senior guard Abbie Reeves, who had a career-high 24 points on 9-of-21 shooting, including six 3-pointers, all while coming off the bench. Reeves also grabbed six rebounds, dished out three assists and had three steals.

“Abbie is one of our most talented scorers,” Carollo said. “We just want her to have the confidence to shoot because she is a very good player.”

Sophomore forward Kate McKay recorded 14 points off the bench for the Warhawks on 5-of-9 shooting in just 17 minutes.

The ’Hawks led from tip-off to finish.

The second game of the week was a 62-59 victory against UW-River Falls. With the victory, UW-Whitewater improves its record to 5-3 in the WIAC.

Sophomore guard Malia Smith led the Warhawks in scoring with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Smith also recorded five rebounds and three steals during her career night.

The Warhawks defensive activity created 17 points off 19 Falcon (15-4) turnovers. They also outrebounded the Falcons 20-10 on the offensive glass to create 24 second-chance points.

River Falls started off the first quarter on a 7-0 run. The Warhawks worked their way back into the game and a 3-pointer by senior guard Maddie Bare tied the game at 10 with four minutes left in the first. The Falcons remained ahead 16-12 at the end of the first quarter.

“We were getting the shots we wanted,” Carollo said. “They just weren’t falling for us at the start of the game, but I knew if we kept getting the layups and open three pointers, they would start to fall.”

Reeves hit a 3-pointer to give UW-Whitewater its first lead of the game, 19-18. The Warhawks outscored the Falcons 17-4 in the second quarter to take a 29-20 lead into halftime.

“We played really hard on defense today,” Carollo said. “Our defense really led the way, and I thought we played a good game overall. But the defense allowed us to stay in it when we didn’t shoot well.”

Senior center Emily Jensen scored five of her six points in the third quarter to help the ’Hawks remain ahead 49-37 after three quarters.

River Falls went on a 19-6 run in the fourth quarter to cut the Warhawk lead down to 55-53 heading into the final four minutes.

Smith made two free throws with 14 seconds remaining, and junior guard Reilly Stewart hit 1-of-2 with one second left to give the Warhawks the three-point lead they finished with.

The Warhawks continue conference play at 7 p.m. on Wednesday Feb. 3 at Kachel Gymnasium on Women’s All-America Night against No. 14 UW-Stevens Point.