In a battle of runs between conference rivals, the No. 11 UW-Whitewater Women’s Basketball team used a late run to help propel themselves into another conference tournament championship game. The Warhawks used a 12-2 run in the last three minutes to earn a 67-59 win over UW-Oshkosh at home in the semifinals of the WIAC Conference Tournament on Feb. 23.
Junior Aleah Grundahl played a big presence early in the game as she had four points along with two rebounds and a steal early in the first quarter as Whitewater jumped out to an 8-0 lead. After baskets from senior Johanna Taylor and freshman Kacie Carollo to extend the lead to 14-5, UW-Oshkosh countered with a 10-0 run including five points from Julia Silloway and a three-pointer from Leah Porath to grab a 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“She just really stepped up and was a great leader,” UW-Whitewater head coach Keri Carollo said of Grundahl. “She was talking and telling people where to go. You could really tell that she has definitely taken ownership of this team.”
Continuing the battle of runs, the Warhawks used a 9-0 run of their own to start the second quarter including five points from Grundahl to grab a 23-15 lead. After the run, UW-Oshkosh responded by cutting the Warhawks’ lead to three twice on three-pointers from Julia Magnuson and Porath as Whitewater went into the locker room with a 32-29 lead.
Back and forth in the second half
Whitewater started off the second half cold going 0-for-5 from the field resulting in an 11-2 run from the Titans with three-point makes from Nikki Arneson, Porath, and Kennedy Osterman to grab a 40-34 lead with 6:06 to go in the third quarter. The Warhawks responded with three-pointers from Carollo and Rebekah Schumacher before making a back and forth and grabbing a 49-46 lead at the end of the period.
UW-Oshkosh came out cold to start the fourth quarter as Whitewater used a 6-0 run to push the lead up to nine points. The Titans responded with seven points from Porath and two free throws from Arneson to tie the game with 3:12 to go in the game.
“We harp on defense all the time, and that is the number one thing that we talked about since the beginning of the season,” Junior Aleah Grundahl said. “If we are getting defensive stops, our baskets are going to fall. There were times that we were struggling and we were going on droughts, but we knew that every single time that our defense was going to pick us back up.”
Late-game 12-2 run clinches spot in conference championship for Warhawks
In the last three minutes of the game, UW-Whitewater used a 12-2 run including five points from Grundahl and a three-pointer from Schumacher to pull ahead. The Warhawks closed the game out at the line with free throws from Carollo and Maggie Trautsch to get the win.
Grundahl led the Warhawks with 19 points and had seven rebounds, while both Taylor and Schumacher had 12 and Carollo had 11 in the victory. Taylor led the Warhawks on the boards with eight in the game.
The Warhawks shot 37.3 percent for the game, while the Titans shot 35 percent from the field. UW-Whitewater made four more three-pointers than UW-Oshkosh in the game, and the Warhawks 12-for-16 from the free-throw line in the win.
With the win, UW-Whitewater advanced to the Conference Championship game on Feb. 25 against UW-Eau Claire. This will be the eighth conference tournament championship appearance for the Warhawks, and the winner will get the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.