Women’s hoops team wins two, moves to 4-0
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 02:11
With a pair of victories over Lakeland college and Judson University (Ill.), the UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team has begun its season with a perfect 4-0 record.
The Titans almost conceded their early season winning streak against Judson University on Nov. 24 but were able to hold off the Eagles for a 47-46 victory in Elgin, Ill.
Within the first eight minutes, the Titans jumped out to a 13-4 lead with sophomore Katelyn Kuehl at the reins with five points in the early stages.
Oshkosh remained ahead for the entire first half and took a comfortable 28-15 lead into halftime.
The second half proved to be a completely different story when the Eagles came out firing on all cylinders and went on a 13-0 run in the early stages of the second half.
Judson stayed on Oshkosh’s heels, but the Titans were able to hold off the surge.
After two free throws by freshman Ashley Neustifter, the Titans held a 42-38 lead with six minutes remaining, but went scoreless over the next five minutes.
The Eagles tied it up with a three-pointer, but with 14 seconds left Oshkosh senior Megan Wenig knocked down a free throw and the Titans’ defense held strong to notch the win.
Oshkosh sophomore guard/forward Heather Conroy said a lack of energy was the reason the Eagles were able to mount a second half comeback.
“During the first half we came out with a huge lead because of our energy,” Conroy said. “Our communication and pushing the ball off the floor were the two things that basically won us the first half. Second half, we didn’t back down but instead let our energy level down, or they pretty much picked up their intensity.”
Junior forward Sarah Stecker also said the game was a lesson for the team that they need to stay focused for the entire game to keep winning.
“At the game against Judson I think we learned a lot as a team,” Stecker said. “It was great that we could rely on our defense but again we just need to keep working to put together a full game of basketball the way we have been working on in practices.”
Wenig also said the Eagles should not have had a chance to come back and they need to practice on keeping strong for the whole game.
“The score shouldn’t have been as close as it was because we let up in the second half,” Wenig said. “We have been struggling to play our second half as strong as the first, so it is something that we need to work on. If we kept up our intensity I think the score would not have gotten as close as it was.”
On Monday, the Titans took on Lakeland College in Sheboygan and another early lead helped pave the way for a 54-44 victory.
Within the first half, the Titans were winning with a 30-9 lead behind Wenig, whose aggressive play got her to the free-throw line six times and she knocked them all down.
The Muskies had a rough first half with only shooting 15 percent in the first half and went on a six minute scoreless drought at one point.
Wenig said the team once again won because of their strong first half and great defense.
“Lakeland was a decent team with some strong post players,” Wenig said. “Again, coming out strong in the first half is what got us the win. It was a great overall team effort. We had people knocking down shots, getting rebounds and playing good defense.”
Stecker said her team is getting better with every challenge and realizes what it needs to work on to keep succeeding this year.
“We just have to continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together to play a complete 40 minute game of basketball the way we have been working on,” Stecker said. “Our defense has been key for our wins so far but from here on out the teams are going to be tougher and we just have to keep working to get at the level we wanted to be at.”
In the victory, the Titans struggled from the field, shooting only 33 percent, including a dismal 3-17 from beyond the arc, but they were able to make up for it by going 94 percent at the foul line.
Conroy said the team will win games as long as it stays focused and keep the drive though-out the entire game.
“[We must] keep the intensity level up whether we are ahead by 15 or ahead by one,” Conroy said. “Energy and defense win games.”
Kuehl said she wants the team to surprise the other teams they will compete against with how strong it has become compared to last season.
“Being ranked last in our division, our goal is to upset a lot of teams,” Kuehl said. “We also plan to make the tournament this year. Our entire team knows what we are capable of, so our goal is to go out there and accomplish what we can do. We all look forward to an exciting year ahead of us.”
The Titans will try to stretch their undefeated streak as they play in Iowa on Saturday against Loras College.