Women’s team preparing for NCAA Tournament

The UW-Whitewater women’s basketball team fell short against UW-Stevens Point on Saturday, losing 80-61 in the WIAC Championship game.

The Warhawks lost 80-61 to UW-Stevens Point in the WIAC Championship Sunday. They still earned an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament and will face Carthage Friday.

The Pointers earned the WIAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and forced the Warhawks to wait and hope for a tournament bid.

Although the ’Hawks didn’t receive an automatic bid, they received an at-large bid and will travel to Greencastle, Ind., to face Carthage College.

The ’Hawks first game of the WIAC Tournament was a 92-55 dismantling of UW-Superior. Sophomore guard Mary Merg led the ’Hawks with 18 points and only missed one shot all game.

Everyone saw the floor against the Yellowjackets, as the ’Hawks built an insurmountable 50-18 lead by halftime.

UW-Eau Claire was next up for the team. Junior center Cortney Kumerow said they knew beating the Blugolds and getting to the conference championship game would drastically help their chances of getting an NCAA Tournament bid.

“We were so determined the whole game,” Kumerow said. “We just kept telling each other that we were going to win and never gave up.”

The ’Hawks struggled through a dismal shooting performance to edge the Blugolds 57-53 in a hard-fought game.

The team shot only 27 percent from the field, while the Blugolds shot 40 percent. The Blugolds also outrebounded the ’Hawks by 10.

The ’Hawks only had 11 turnovers, while the Blugolds committed 28.

Seniors Chantel Burg and Jamie Swanson combined for 10 of the ’Hawks’ 19 steals, which helped give the team 17 more possessions than the Blugolds.

Finally, with about five minutes left in the game, the ’Hawks made a run to go up by two. Then they got a crucial stop and Kumerow knocked down two free throws to seal the win.

After the semifinal victory, coach Keri Carollo told the team how proud she was of them, but added that their work was not done yet.

“We were jumping around the locker room and really excited after the UW-Eau Claire game,” Kumerow said. “We were really confident going into Saturday.”

In the championship game, the ’Hawks fell to UW-Stevens Point for the third time this season. Even though the score looked lopsided, Kumerow said the ’Hawks were competitive.

“We just need to get stops and execute on offense in crucial possessions,” Kumerow said. “They’re a really good team, and they got the big stops and made  shots when it mattered.”

The ’Hawks hope their 22-6 record and second place finish in the WIAC Tournament will give them enough momentum to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament.