UW-Whitewater clinched a first round bye in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with an 82-66 win over UW-Superior Saturday in Kachel Gym in Williams Center in Whitewater. UW-W is 18-5 overall and 12-2 in the WIAC. UW-Superior is 18-6, and 10-5 in the WIAC. The Warhawks lead the WIAC by at least one game, depending on the result of the Oshkosh-River Falls game Saturday night, with two games to play in the regular season. Oshkosh, 10-3 going into that game, is the only team other than UW-W that can still earn the number one seed, and the top two seeds receive a bye in the league tourney.
UW-Whitewater jumped out to an 8-2 lead, ending with a pair of free throws by senior center Cortney Kumerow at 18:36. UW-Superior took their first lead of the game after a steal by sophomore guard Sally Linzmeier and her transition jumper on the other end, making the score 19-18 with 9:34 left to play. UW-S's lead vanished shortly after that, as Whitewater regained the lead on another pair of Kumerow free throws, making the score 20-19 at the 9:00 mark. The Warhawks' used an 8-2 run to push the lead to seven, 28-21, at 6:31. Superior responded with a 6-0 run of their own to pull within a point, 28-27, with 3:46 remaining. The Warhawks caught fire at the right time after seeing their lead diminish, capping off a 9-1 run with back-to-back three point jumpers by junior guards Kaitlyn Thill and Mary Merg. Whitewater went in to the lockerroom with a 38-30 lead.
Free throws gave the Warhawks the advantage in the first half, as they knocked down 20 of 23 attempts (87%) compared to the Yellowjackets 8 of 13 (62%). The scoring at the line compensated for field goal shooting, where Whitewater shot 8-28 (29%) and Superior managed to hit on 34% of their shots (11-32).
The Warhawks were led first half from senior center Cortney Kumerow. Kumerow tallied 20 first half points, despite only two field goals, hitting 16-16 free throw attempts. Kumerow added ten rebounds and three blocked shots. Linzmeier paced the Yellowjackets with nine points and senior guard Connie Urmanski added eight.
Coming out of halftime, UW-W stretched the lead to 13 points, 46-33, four minutes into the half after a three point jumper by Thill. UW-S cut the lead in half at the 13:04 mark after a three point play by freshman forward Allyssa Lindberg making the score 48-41. The Yellowjackets didn't get any closer, as Whitewater used a 12-1 run a minute later to push the lead to 18 points, 60-42. Superior made a push late in the game, getting the margin down to ten, 71-61, with 3:22 left to play, but Whitewater went 2 for 3 from beyond the arc and 5-6 from the free throw stripe down the stretch to close the game out.
UW-W shot the ball better in the second half, going 14-31 (45%), making it 22-59 (37%) for the game. The biggest difference in scoring came at the free throw line and three point line for the Warhawks, as they capitalized on 32 of 39 free throw attempts, compared to Superior's 24-33, and four more made three point baskets than the Yellowjackets. The 32 free throws made for UW-W is tied for fourth in the school record book and seventeenth in WIAC history.
Kumerow added to her first half totals, finishing with 29 points including 19-19 from the free throw line, which is good for second all-time in UW-Whitewater, and WIAC, history, behind UW-W's Nya Geschke, who made 20-20 on February 21, 2004. Kumerow also tallied 17 rebounds and three blocked shots, setting career highs for points, free throws attempted, free throws made, and rebounds. Thill totaled 15 points and four assists, and Merg added 12 points. The Yellowjackets were led by Linzmeier with 21 points and Urmanski with 11.
UW-W will host UW-Oshkosh Wednesday, February 13 at 7:00 in Kachel Gym of Williams Center.