After a season full of ups and downs, the Whitewater women’s basketball team played their last game of the season, losing 72-56 to Washington University in St. Louis in the NCAA tournament first round March 2.
UW-W’s appearance in the tournament marked its 11th run in the past 12 years.
The team finished the season 18-10 overall and has put together winning seasons since the 2006-07 season.
The Warhawks were unable to get back on track after opening the game on the wrong side of a 13-2 run. The team was shot only 28 percent in the first half, and the Bears were able to get points in transition. Wash-U senior Madeline Homoly scored 19 points, most of which came on the inside.
“Obviously the first half didn’t go as we wanted, but I’m so incredibly proud to put on this jersey, and I am so incredibly proud that I’ve been part of this program, and I’m proud of the fight my teammates put up tonight, and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said an emotional Olivia Freckmann, the senior forward who appeared in 95 games for the Warhawks.
Junior guard Becky Raeder led all scorers with 20 points.
Head coach Keri Carollo noted she knew that Homoly was going to be tough to stop.
“Our game plan was to slow down Homoly as best we could,” Carollo said. “She’s a handful so we knew we weren’t going to be able to stop her, but just slow her down, and to make sure we didn’t allow for early transition baskets which we didn’t do a very good job of in the first 20 minutes.”
The Warhawks went into the half down by 21 points.
The Warhawks, however, outscored the Bears 18-13 in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer to bring the game within 12 by Raeder.
“Someone was going to have to step up and be the one to score and make plays, so I did my best,” Raeder said.
UW-W kept up the fight in the fourth quarter and kept the Bears players in check until the very end. Freckmann got the Warhawks within 10, 64-54, on a layup with 4:24 to go, but Wash U answered with an 8-0 run to essentially end the Warhawks’ season.
Whitewater got a standout performance from freshman guard Veronica Kieres, who scored nine points and committed no turnovers.
The Warhawks lose four seniors in Freckmann, Sarah Schumacher, Becky Deichl and Juliette Vainisi.
“It’s been a really fun team to coach because they don’t give up,” Carollo said. “They have a lot of heart, a lot of passion for each other. We’re gonna miss our four seniors a lot and their leadership both on and off the court. They’ve been a great representation of our university both on and off the court.”