Women’s basketball wins third WIAC Tournament

Michael Johrendt

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh women’s basketball team took home its third consecutive WIAC tournament title with a 65-64 win over UW-River Falls on Saturday, Feb. 27. This guaranteed the Titans an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III postseason tournament. The Titans finished 22-5 on the season, including two postseason conference tournament wins against UW-Stevens Point and UW-River Falls. Their 11-3 conference record resulted in a second place regular season conference finish. Junior guard Taylor Schmidt tied her season high in points with 23 and added two rebounds against the Falcons. Sophomore forward Eliza Campbell chipped in nine points, three rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore guard Emma Melotik said being able to shift their focal point and preparation from team to team is especially important in the postseason. “It’s definitely important for us to be able to change our focus from opponent to opponent,” Melotik said. “As a team, we take our scouting very seriously and we do what we can to use that to our advantage.” Two of the last three conference titles have been won at home for the Titans. According to head coach Brad Fischer, this is a positive thing when it comes to the postseason. “Playing at home is a definite advantage; any advantage we can get is huge for us at this time of year,” Fischer said. “Hopefully we can get a good crowd to help propel us because it is hard to earn a spot to host [in the NCAA tournament].” In the semifinal contest, the Titans won a defensive battle against UW-Stevens Point, 38-21. Oshkosh held the Pointers to a record low point total, while setting the offensive tone early. The Titans were able to force Stevens Point into 40 missed shot attempts. Melotik said the Titans are a well-balanced squad, as the bench produced 13 points in the game against the Pointers, unlike many other teams. “When we use our depth and players on the bench to light a spark when they come in, it makes a huge difference in the game,” Melotik said. “It’s something that not many teams have.” Since 2000, the Titans have made it to the WIAC tournament final eight times, coming away with three titles and three consequent NCAA DIII tournament births. Having this type of experience gives the team a sense of confidence come tournament time, Schmidt said. “My class has been in the tournament for two years going on three and I think having that experience can help us be more calm and confident in what we do,” Schmidt said. Oshkosh faces UW-Superior at home on Friday, March 4 for the first round of the NCAA tournament. The two teams have history, as Superior was a member of the WIAC conference before realignment after the 2014-2015 school year, which resulted in them joining the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. The Titans defeated the Yellowjackets in both the 2014 and 2015 WIAC tournament finals.