Sweet victory for women’s basketball


Katie McIlheran

UW-Whitewater Women’s basketball team tip off playoff game against Webster University in the Kachel Gymnasium Mar. 3 2023

Mikey Rottier, Women’s Sports Editor

The Warhawk women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, for the sixth time in the program’s history. Of the previous five appearances, they have advanced to the Final Four all but once. 

Despite being without star forward Aleah Grundahl, Whitewater won a pair of NCAA tournament games against Webster University (MO.) and Gustavus Adolphus College (MN.) to survive and advance. Kacie Carollo led the charge on offense, while Abby Belschner added a force on the defensive side of the ball. 

The Warhawks started their weekend on the right foot with a hard-fought win against Webster in round one. Whitewater held Webster’s seventh ranked offense in the country to 50 points in their 69-50 victory. 

UW-Whitewater Warhawk Yssa Sto. Domingo directs offense against Webster University Mar. 3 2023 (Katie McIlheran)

“The first game is always the toughest, because everyone is excited and you have all those emotions running through you,” Whitewater head coach Keri Carollo said. “We knew that it was going to be a scrappy game and we were going to have to handle their physicality.”

The Webster Gorloks held a 15-14 lead after the first quarter, but the Warhawks were able to heat up from the perimeter and take a 33-27 lead into the locker room at halftime. Carollo recorded 11 points in the second quarter alone, and finished as the game leader with 24. 

Whitewater extended their lead in the second half as they put on a defensive clinic. The Warhawks stifled the Webster scoring attack, and held them scoreless for a 10 minute and 30 second span, throughout the third and fourth quarters. 

Abby Belschner spent the majority of the game in foul trouble for Whitewater, but was still able to fill up the stats sheet. In addition to her 4 points, she recorded 3 steals, 4 blocks and 7 rebounds. 

“I knew they were going to double team me in the post, so I knew it was going to be a game of kicking it out to the guards,” Belschner said. “I realized pretty early that I was needed more on the defensive end, so I tried to put all my effort towards that.”

Senior forward Abi Baumgartner recorded a career high in her second straight game filling in for Grundahl. Baumgartner scored 16 points in the contest, and hit a big-time 3-pointer early in the second quarter, to give UWW their first lead of the game. 

The Warhawks advanced to the second round after the win against Webster and took on Gustavus

UW-Whitewater Warhawks play defense in a playoff game against Webster University in the Kachel Gymnasium Mar. 3 2023. (Katie McIlheran)

Adolphus. Whitewater defeated the Golden Gusties 68-63 despite a 14-point comeback attempt from Gustavus Adolphus in the last four minutes of the game. 

Kacie Carollo scored a career high 29 points and surpassed 20 points in her third straight game. The sophomore guard’s hot streak is coming at a much needed time for the Warhawks with Grundahl on the injured list. 

“I knew with Aleah out I was going to have to step up,” Carollo said. “My teammates give me a whole bunch of confidence and tell me to keep shooting. I know I have to put up big numbers right now, so I am just doing what we have to do to win.”

Whitewater took their first lead of the game early in the first quarter 8-6 after a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers from Yssa Sto. Domingo. The Warhawks stayed in control of the game and built up their largest lead 60-43 with 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Gustavus Adolphus did not let up.

The Golden Gusties battled back within reach and a pair of 3-pointers from Anna Sanders and Morgan Kelly made it a one-score game for Gustavus Adolphus, with just under one minute remaining. Despite the pressure put on late from the Gusties, Whitewater managed to make just enough free throws down the stretch and stave off the comeback attempt. 

UW-Whitewater Women’s basketball celebrates a playoff win against Webster University and sends them to the next round of the playoffs Mar. 3 2023. (Katie McIlheran)

The Warhawks will be on the road for the next round of the NCAA tournament, to play Trinity College (CT.), in Northampton Massachusetts, Mar. 10 at 5 p.m. If Whitewater is able to defeat Trinity, they will have an opportunity to play into the Final Four, for the second year in a row. They continue to await the return of Grundahl, but intend to survive and advance long enough for her to join the team’s tournament run down the stretch.