La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse women's basketball team earned a 57-51 victory over UW-Stevens Point Saturday afternoon in Mitchell Hall in the regular-season finale for both teams. UWL improves to 15-10 overall and 9-5 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) while UW-Stevens Point falls to 17-8 overall and 9-5 in the conference.
Both teams will host WIAC Championship (presented by Culver's) games. UWL will host UW-Eau Claire in a first round game Wednesday, February 22 at 7 p.m. UW-Stevens Point will be either the second-seed or third-seed, depending on UW-Whitewater's game with UW-Eau Claire Saturday night.
The WIAC semifinals are scheduled for Friday, February 24 and championship game Sunday, February 26. The winner of the league championship earns an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championships.
With its win Saturday, UWL recorded its most overall (15) and WIAC (9) victories since finishing 16-10 overall and 9-7 in the conference in 2011-12.
"It was a very special day for our seniors and our team," said UWL head coach Karen Middleton. "I am so proud of our effort and focus today."
UWL raced out to an 14-2 lead with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter on a Alyssa Clemment three-point field goal. The Eagles started six-of-nine from the field. UW-Stevens Point cut the lead to 16-7 with 2:00 left on an Lauren Anklam's layup, but a Sydney Kannel jumper and MaKenzie Miller gave UWL a 20-7 lead after the first quarter. The Eagles led 26-11 with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter before the Pointers used a 13-5 run to end the half and cut the deficit to 31-24.
Rachel Atchison's layup with 4:55 left in the third quarter gave UWL a 39-27 advantage before UW-Stevens Point cut the lead to 41-35 at the end of the quarter. The Pointers cut the lead to 45-42 with 3:51 remaining on a Payton Mix jumper, but UW-Stevens Point could get no closer the rest of the game. UW-Stevens Point made it 50-46 with 1:03 left on a Mickey Roland layup before UWL made seven-of-12 free throws in the final :50.
UWL shot 44.0% from the field, including 52.0% (13-of-25) in the first half. The Eagles shot 33.3% (two-of-six) from three-point range in the game and 57.9% (11-of-19) at the free throw line.
Miller led UWL with 25 points and school record 26 rebounds Saturday, finishing 11-of-19 from the field and three-of-six at the line. It was her 11th double-double of the season. She also had four assists. The 26 rebounds breaks the single-game school record of 24 set by Kristin Gunderson (February 22, 1986) and Danielle Frank (January 29, 2011). Miller's 26 rebounds is tied for second-most in WIAC history. Chris Boos of UW-Eau Claire had a conference record 27 rebounds (December 5, 1992) while Yonna Grey of UW-Stout also recorded 26 (November 19, 1994).
"MaKenzie continues to play wiht a ton of confidence and is extremely productive," said Middleton. "This win helps us tremendously as we get ready for the WIAC Tournament next week."
Clemment finished with 10 points Saturday while DeNoyer totaled six points, five rebounds and two assists.
UW-Stevens Point, receiving a vote on this week's D3hoops.com Top-25 Poll, shot 31.1% from the field, including 16.7% (two-of-12) from three-point range, and 68.8% (11-of-16) at the line. Anklam led the Pointers with 20 points while Roland finished with nine points and five rebounds. Mix recorded eight points.
UWL returns to action Wednesday, February 22 hosting UW-Eau Claire in a WIAC Championship (presented by Culver's) first round game. It will be UWL's first WIAC Championship home game since 2011.