Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sports

Women's hoops: Eagles shoot lights out to drop Blugolds into third-place tie

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    Eau Claire's Anna Graaskamp looks for a pass during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    UW-Eau Claire’s Maddie Dunathan and UW-La Crosse’s Ava Kramer battle for a rebound Wednesday at Zorn Arena. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com.

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    Eau Claire's Jenni LaCroix directs her team during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Hallee Hoeppner dribbles the ball against La Crosse's Dani Craig during the basketball game at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    Eau Claire's team huddle during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Kelsey Bakken looks for a pass during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    Eau Claire's Anna Graaskamp shoots the ball during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    Eau Claire's Maddie Dunathan defends during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Anna Graaskamp looks for a pass during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    Eau Claire's Kelsey Bakken, left, and Hallee Hoeppner defend La Crosse's Dani Craig during the basketball game at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

    Staff photo by Elena Dawson
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    Eau Claire's Katie Essen and La Crosse's Shayla Karge reach for the ball during the basketball game at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    UW-Eau Claire's Anna Graaskamp shoots the ball during the basketball game against UW-Lacrosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    UW-Eau Claire's Kelsey Bakken shoots a lay-up during the basketball game against UW-Lacrosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    La Crosse's Shayla Karge defends against Eau Claire's Kayla Hanley during the basketball game at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Hallee Hoeppner shoots a free throw during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Kelsey Bakken defends during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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    Eau Claire's Katie Essen shoots the ball during the basketball game against UW-La Crosse at Zorn Arena on February 7, 2018. View more photos at LeaderTelegramPhotos.com

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The UW-Eau Claire women’s basketball team loves playing at Zorn Arena. The Blugolds normally shoot the ball well at home.

In their first 10 home games, the Blugolds went 9-1. No opponent had shot a higher percentage than them in any of those games. Only once had the Blugolds not shot at least 40 percent. Only one opponent had topped the 40-percent mark. None had reached 50.

That all changed Wednesday night.

The Blugolds ran into a red-hot UW-La Crosse team that didn’t miss much. The Eagles shot 53 percent from the field, knocked down 12 3s and handed UW-Eau Claire a 76-55 loss in WIAC action at Zorn Arena.

“Credit to La Crosse. I thought they played really well,” UW-Eau Claire coach Tonja Englund said. “I think it’s a combination of they shot really well, and I felt like defensively we didn’t have the compete level that we needed to have tonight.”

The Blugolds’ Anna Graaskamp had another big night, scoring 22 points on 11-of-18 shooting. But the rest of the Blugolds shot 27 percent from the floor and hit just 3 of 20 shots from beyond the arc.

“I thought Anna did a really good job on the inside tonight and scored with her touches,” Englund said. “I thought we had really good looks on the perimeter, and we didn’t hit those shots. We had a lot of two-foot shots going to the rim that we missed, and La Crosse didn’t. That’s the difference.”

The Blugolds, who shot 39 percent as a team, actually got off to a quick start. Using their full-court pressure, the Blugolds frustrated the Eagles and forced seven turnovers in the first six minutes of the game to jump out to a 14-5 lead.

But when the Eagles started to take care of the ball, they quickly erased the deficit and took the lead, thanks to their perimeter shooting. They hit eight 3-pointers before halftime and two early in the second to grab a 15-point advantage.

“There was a point in the game where it shifted,” Englund said. “I felt like we lost what we had going with our press, and they started hitting some shots, and that completely changed the game. That’s something my team has got to learn is when we get an early lead like that, we’ve got to build on it.”

The Blugolds couldn’t put together any kind of a run in the second half, never getting closer than 12 points as the Eagles continued to knock down shots that the Blugolds couldn’t answer.

“I felt like there were a lot of possessions where we just weren’t in sync,” Englund said. “A lot of possessions where we just didn’t look like our usual selves, which is not OK. When we run into teams that are shooting the ball well, we have got to be able to clamp down defensively and do a better job.”

The loss was a disappointing one for the Blugolds, considering they entered the night in a three-way tie for second place with UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh and had their sights set on the top of the conference. Their loss, coupled with UW-Whitewater’s win over UW-Oshkosh, dropped the Blugolds into a third-place tie with UW-Oshksoh, two behind UW-Whitewater.


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