Women’s basketball improves to 9-2 in conference

Michael Johrendt

The UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team improved their record to 18-4 overall and 9-2 in-conference when they beat UW-Eau Claire 57-44 on Wednesday, February 10. Junior guard Taylor Schmidt led the charge with 14 points for the Titans. She also had two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Senior forward Marissa Selner contributed eight points as she was a perfect four-for-four shooting. Schmidt said the team’s motivation helps when preparing for every game, regardless of the opponent. “I think being motivated is the mentality you need as a team to succeed,” Schmidt said. “When everyone is on board to being motivated, you reach the goals you set at the beginning of the year. It’s the final push and we need to be extra motivated.” Sophomore Eliza Campbell said keying in on motivation is something that is echoed by everyone on the team. She stated her team needed to start the game with a high-tempo in order to get the win against UW-Eau Claire. “I think to accomplish our goal of winning conference we need to come into our practices and games with a big winners mentality,” Campbell said. “If we all go in knowing we can take this first place spot, we could be tough to stop.” The women ended their winning streak at eight consecutive games with a 59-52 loss to UW-Stout on Saturday Feb. 6. Campbell led the Titans with a double double, scoring 17 points and chipping in 10 rebounds. Freshman Chloe Pustina added three assists for the Titans, as the team had eight assists in the game that consisted of many lead changes. Junior Alex Richard was second in scoring with 10 points and added two offensive rebounds while converting four free throws. Junior guard Morgan Kokta scored four points in 25 minutes off the bench. Coming into the game, the Titans were ranked 10th nationally by D3hoops.com as they lead the country in three-point percentage by shooting 37.8 percent. Head coach Brad Fischer said the team focuses on certain fundamentals so they can have something to go back to. “We have focused on three or four core values,” Fischer said. “We want to defend, by keeping people out of the lane and contesting shots, take good shots offensively, even though we run multiple [sets], and we just try to kind of lay down a couple of those key elements that if we feel like we do a good job of being consistent at that, then we can contend.” UWO was able to win the turnover battle by only giving up the ball 15 times compared to Stout’s 19, and Fischer said that area is another one of their core fundamentals. “We are among the best in the country this year at that [limiting turnovers],” Fischer said. “So we feel like even if we have bad shooting nights and we do some things poorly, if we can just hold to those couple of things, game to game we will do a good job.”As for the other starters, Selner led the Titans with five offensive rebounds and eight total boards in 24 minutes. Schmidt shot 33.3 percent from the field, scoring three points and battling for two defensive rebounds, along with two assists. Senior Ashley Neustifter tallied five points, three defensive rebounds, two assists, and a team high three steals. Oshkosh fell into a tie for first with UW-River Falls in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as both teams have only lost twice this year in conference play. Schmidt said that the team’s confidence level begins with Coach Fischer. “I think Coach Fischer has built a trust system with his team,” Schmidt said. “We trust him and he trusts us. I think he builds our confidence and knowledge the best he can and that is why his record is so great.”