Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Basketball falls in pivotal WIAC matchup

Defensive slugfest
UW-Whitewater+women%E2%80%99s+basketball+player+senior+Aleah+Grundahl%28%2333%29+shoots+a+free+throw+against+UW-Oshkosh+in+the+Kachel+Gymnasium+Jan.+31%2C+2024.
Katie McIlheran
UW-Whitewater women’s basketball player senior Aleah Grundahl(#33) shoots a free throw against UW-Oshkosh in the Kachel Gymnasium Jan. 31, 2024.

After a dominating 66-37 victory over the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds Saturday, Jan. 27,  No.5 UW-Whitewater women’s basketball looked to build off that momentum heading into their biggest matchup of the season at home against No. 23 UW-Oshkosh Titans. Coming into the game, Whitewater was in the driver seat of the WIAC standings, sitting at 7-1 in conference play (18-1). In their rearview mirror, however, trailed Oshkosh (6-2 WIAC, 15-4). From tipoff, both teams came out blazing in pace. 

“Trying to set the tempo with our press and then making sure that we’re pushing in transition is always important for us,” head coach Keri Carollo said. “Oshkosh did a really nice job of controlling that and making sure that they worked, especially late in the game to get the shots that they wanted and really made us work defensively on that end of the floor.” 

“We’ve really just been working on pushing the ball, getting the ball out of the hoop really quick,” said junior forward Katie Hildebrandt. “I think that just sets the tone right away, and I think that helped us kind of take control of the game. Even though at the end of the day they put more baskets in the hoop, I think (overall) we did have control.” 

After being down 15-10 in the first quarter, Whitewater’s defense held the Titans to 9 points in the second quarter with the offense pouring in 18 of their own. Hildebrandt’s dominating 8 point, 4 rebound, 2 block, and 1 steal first half performance gave the Warhawks a tight 4-point lead at half, 28-24.

“I think defensively it’s just all about team defense,” Hildebrandt said. “We’ve really been harping that the past week or two. So just being able to get those blocks because I’m in help (defense) and I always have my teammates back.” 

Despite maintaining the lead following a back-and-forth third quarter, the Warhawks jumped out to a 7-point lead a minute-and-a-half into the fourth, 43-36. Oshkosh’s senior guard Kennedy Osterman responded with a quick 5 points of her own, making it a one-possession game for the Titans.  

Following a three-pointer from junior guard Kacie Carollo to put the Warhawks up 46-41, the offense fell cold as Oshkosh’s suffocating defensive effort held Whitewater scoreless for the remaining seven minutes of the game, culminating in a 16-0 run by the Titan offense to win the game 57-46

“Once we hit a couple shots, we got up by five or six and then we just hit a wall,” Keri Carollo said. “I’ll attribute that to Oshkosh’s defense and their scheme. It was really well done, and they definitely deserved to win that game.” 

Saturday the Warhawks continued their skid at UW-Stout to fall to 18-3 overall, 7-3 in WIAC play. Only four games remain in the season and Whitewater is second in the WIAC behind UW-Oshkosh. With the 2024 WIAC Women’s Basketball Tournament set for Feb. 19, both teams look to secure the No. 1 overall seed and home court advantage throughout the entirety of the tournament. The winner receives an automatic bid to the 2024 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament. 

“This is a very resilient team,” Keri Carollo said. “They’ll figure out how to bounce back, I have no doubt about that. We’ll get things going again—we’ll have an opportunity again to prove ourselves on Saturday.” 

The Warhawks will continue their campaign for the No. 1 seed in the WIAC with their Wednesday, Feb. 7, night game at UW-Stevens Point against the Pointers. 

 

Zach Prybylski
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About the Contributors
Gabe Sadoski, Assistant Women's Sports Editor
Katie McIlheran, Lead Photographer

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