Titans top Warhawks for basketball championship title

UW-Whitewater+senior+center+Johanna+Taylor+%2840%29+goes+up+for+a+shot+during+the+Warhawks%27+matchup+against+the+UW-Oshkosh+Titans+in+the+WIAC+Tournament+Championship+game%2C+Friday%2C+Mar.+5.+

Steve Frommell / UW-Oshkosh Athletics

UW-Whitewater senior center Johanna Taylor (40) goes up for a shot during the Warhawks’ matchup against the UW-Oshkosh Titans in the WIAC Tournament Championship game, Friday, Mar. 5.

Nay Salter, Assistant Sports Editor

The UW-Whitewater women’s basketball team touched glory in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship Final Friday, Mar. 5, but fell to UW-Oshkosh in the second half. The Warhawks finish the 2021 campaign with an 8-3 record.

The Warhawks toppled UW-Stout 66-49 and then UW-Eau Claire 74-62 leading up to the big game, but ultimately lost 74-58 to UW-Oshkosh in the title game. 

“I never had a doubt that we would make it to the finals. That’s always our mindset going into the tournament. We focused our strengths as a team so that we were confident in our ability to compete. We went into every day with a game-like mindset to prepare for the WIAC tournament,” said number 14 guard Rebekah Schumacher. 

In the first round of the WIAC Championship Monday, Mar. 1, the Warhawks beat their rivals the Blue Devils with strong 3-point shooting and defense. Being the first game of the week, the women channeled their excitement into the competition. The team had a total of 13 steals, a free throw percentage of 33.3 percent, and with 0:21 left on the clock Emily Schumacher snuck in a 3-pointer only seconds after UW-Stout had shot a 3-pointer, sending the entire court into an uproar. 

Continuing their winning streak, the Warhawks competed against the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds Wednesday, Mar. 3. This game was different than any the Warhawks had competed in before. The energy and atmosphere was different with some shocking shots and plays. Johanna Taylor came through, blocking the ball six times. The team had a free throw percentage of 87 percent, which is the highest out of the three games, and the Warhawks almost doubled UW-Stout’s rebounds by the second quarter. 

After six straight wins, the WIAC Championship Final topped the week’s steady run for the women against UW-Oshkosh Friday, Mar. 5. The lead was back and forth between the teams throughout the first half, and tied 20-20 near the midway point of the second, but then the Warhawks began to lose ground. The Titans outscored the Warhawks by 16 points in the third quarter. Despite a run in the fourth, outscoring the Titans 23-19 in the quarter, the women couldn’t overcome Oshkosh’s lead.

Highlights from the game include center Johanna Taylor scoring a career-high of 23 points with eight rebounds and three blocks. Forward Aleah Grundahl made a career-high eight assists, along with 12 points and nine rebounds. Overall the team had 30 total points in the paint, and during the fourth quarter the Warhawks had a free throw percentage of 100 percent. 

“Our team overcame so many obstacles because of COVID. I couldn’t be more proud of this team for all the things that they have accomplished without one positive COVID test the entire time since September,” said head coach Keri Carollo. “We may not have won the conference championship, but we are winners in life and that’s something no one can take away from us.” 

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