UW-W Women Grab Second
UW-W started quickly Saturday, jumping out to a 6-0 lead. UW-RF has closed the gap to one, 13-12, by 14:53, but the Warhawks ran off ten consecutive points to build a 23-12 lead with 10:22 left in the first half. The margin reached 28-17 on Emily Bestor (North Fond du Lac/Horace Mann)'s three-pointer with 5:16 left and, after a quick dip to eight points, Cortney Kumerow (Bartlett/South Elgin)'s layup had pushed Whitewater's lead up to 35-22 with 2:05 on the clock. Jamie Swanson (Fox Lake, IL/Grant Community)'s layup at 1:02 gave UW-W its largest lead of the half, 37-23, and the teams went into their locker rooms with Whitewater in front 37-26.
UW-W shot 52% from the floor in the first half, and limited the Falcons to 27%. UW-RF, the leading rebounding team in the WIAC, had a 30-16 lead on the boards, but Whitewater countered with a just three turnovers to eight for River Falls. Kumerow led both teams with ten first half points, hitting 5-6 shots.
Katie Burton (Crystal Lake, IL/Crystal Lake South)'s layup at 18:26 of the second half pushed the Warhawk lead to 42-27, and Chantel Burg (Hartford/Hartford Union)'s layin at 16:28 inched the margin to 46-29. UW-W maintained a double digit lead until 11:06, when Brittany Gregorich made a layup to bring the Falcons within eight, 48-40. Nikki Guhr's layin at 9:39 reduced the UW-RF deficit to 50-44. Whitewater pushed the spread back into double digits, 59-49 on a Jamie Swanson (Fox Lake, IL/Grant Community) three with 7:07 on the clock. Two Alise Holst free throws had UW-RF within 65-59, and Holst hit another charity toss at 0:42 to pull the Falcons within 65-60. With UW-RF in the timeout/foul mode, Kaitlyn Thill (Belgium/Ozaukee)'s two free throws provided Whitewater's final points at 0:36 and the Falcons were able to add just one free throw in the closing seconds.
Whitewater's defense forced River Falls into 29% shooting from the field for the game, including 4-13 from three point range. The Falcons did not take advantage of 35 free throw attempts, hitting just 19. UW-RF continued to dominate the glass in the second half, piling up a 57-35 rebound margin for the game. Those boards led to 21 second chance points for Falls.
Swanson's 14 points led a trio of Warhawks scoring in double figures, with Kumerow scoring 12 and Mary Merg (Greendale/Greendale) 10. Merg and Thill had four assists each, and Swanson topped UW-W with eight rebounds. Holst took game scoring honors with 28 points, hitting 7-19 shots and 11-15 free throws. She also shared game rebound honors with Swanson, with eight. Host and Gregorich dished out three assists apiece.
The winner of the Whitewater-Superior first round game will advance to a second round game Thursday. If Whitewater wins Tuesday the Warhawks would travel to UW-Eau Claire, 20-5 overall and 13-3 in the WIAC. The Blugolds shared the WIAC title with UW-Stevens Point, but are seeded second in the postseason tourney. The WIAC Tournament championship game is set for Saturday, with the highest remaining seed hosting the game.