The UW-Whitewater Women’s Basketball team went cold in the fourth quarter as the Warhawks fell one game shy of winning their first national championship. The Hope College Flying Dutch used a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to hand the Warhawks their second National Runner-up finish in school history.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this group even though we didn’t accomplish the ultimate goal, but we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be proud of,” head coach Keri Carollo said. “The sisterhood among this team is unbelievable and the takeaways that they will get will last the rest of their lives are going to far outweigh anything else.”
Rebekah Schumacher scored the Warhawks’ first five points to take a 5-3 lead as the game went back and forth in the first quarter. Hope College’s Sydney Muller scored six points in the quarter to help give the Flying Dutch a three-point lead twice in the period before Schumacher hit three free throws from the line to tie the game at 12.
Aleah Grundahl used four points late in the first quarter to give the Warhawks a 16-14 lead after the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Yssa Sto. Domingo knocked down a three-pointer to extend the Warhawks lead to five before Johanna Taylor extended it to seven at 27-21 with about six minutes left in the half.
After the Warhawks extended the lead to seven, Ella McKinney tied the game with six unanswered points before Muller gave them a 29-27 lead to cap an 8-0 run. The Warhawks regained the lead on a Schumacher three-pointer before Muller hit a jumper to tie the game at 31.
Kate Majerus scored four of Hope College’s first six points of the third quarter to help give the Flying Dutch the advantage in the second half. McKinney later pushed the lead to nine points in the quarter before the Warhawks cut the lead down to four on a layup by Schumacher late in the quarter.
After a Carollo three-pointer early in the fourth quarter, Hope College responded with a 13-0 run to push the lead to 16 at 69-53 with 2:58 to go in the game. The Warhawks got baskets from Sto. Domingo and Veronica Kieres late, but couldn’t make a comeback in the 71-58 loss.
“The difference between Hope and most teams that you see is that they have so much length,” Coach Carollo said. “The length is just such an asset for them when they play that type of defense. It isn’t just they are aggressive and get great pressures, they just have so much great size. They had the ability to close gaps that you would normally see that come against some teams that we see.”
Rebekah Schumacher led the way with 14 points, while fellow senior Johanna Taylor had 12 points and nine rebounds in their final games as Warhawks. Aleah Grundahl and Kacie Carollo both had 11 in the loss.
Grundahl averaged 16.2 points per game this season and scored 535 points this season. Taylor led the team with 261 rebounds and 67 blocks as she became the school’s all-time leader in blocks for a career this season.
UW-Whitewater finishes the season at 28-5 and were the regular season Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions this season. The team’s fifth Final Four appearance was the fourth in Carollo’s tenure as head coach.
“We can’t hang our heads because we fought and got here through all the hard games that we did play because we played great teams this whole entire time,” Taylor said. “The composure we showed, there is nothing to hang our heads on. I am really proud of this team and the people I was able to play with this year to see players grow as players and in general life.”