Women’s basketball finishes season

Michael Johrendt

The UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team’s NCAA Division III tournament run came to an end in the second round after falling at home to Wartburg College (IA) 66-56 on March 5. The Titans jumped out to a first quarter lead on Saturday night, but were not able to hold on for the rest of the game. They shot 34 percent from the field and got the advantage in assists with ten. Regardless of the outcome, sophomore Eliza Campbell said this season still presented the team with a sense of achievement. “Reaching the NCAA tournament is a big accomplishment,” Campbell said. “We didn’t get our result we hoped for, but we had a great year and we have a lot to be proud of.” Campbell led the team with 14 points, along with three rebounds and one 3-pointer. Junior guard Taylor Schmidt stuffed the stat sheet by tallying 11 points, one rebound, one steal and three assists. 16 of Oshkosh’s 56 points came from the bench. Junior guard Morgan Kokta led the bench with eight points. Freshman forward Isabella Samuels and sophomore guard Kendell Truttman had three apiece and junior forward Madeline Staples had two points and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Emma Melotik said being in the NCAA for three straight years puts her team on the map. “Making the tournament three years in a row definitely gives all of us returners perspective on how hard we have to work,” Melotik said. “Our seniors, Ashley Neutsifter and Marissa Selner, helped build Oshkosh women’s basketball into a program that is expected to make it far each year.” In the two seniors’ last game as a Titan, Neustifter had four points with a team-high seven rebounds, as well as two assists and three steals. Selner had five points and five rebounds along with a block. Melotik said the seniors have made an impact that will carry into next season. “Us returners now know what is expected of us and how hard we have to work in order to continue the legacy that those two left,” Melotik said. In the first round contest, Oshkosh faced off against an old conference foe in UW-Superior. This game produced three double-digit scorers for the Titans, as Campbell, Neustifter and junior forward Alex Richard combined for 33 points. The Titans held the lead for the final 25 minutes of the game due to stifling defense and a balanced scoring attack as nine Titans scored. 15 points came from the bench. Richard led both teams in rebounds with nine and Schmidt had five assists to pace the game. As a team, Oshkosh shot 42 percent while having fewer turnovers, assists, rebounds and points off turnovers than Superior. Campbell said this season’s results can be used as a driving factor in preparing for next season. “Making it to the NCAA tournament for three years in a row puts a target on our backs again,” Campbell said. “We can use this as motivation to hopefully get further next year.” The Titans finished their season with an overall record of 23-6 and 11-3 in conference play. Their 41.5 percent shooting clip and 65 percent free throw percentage both contributed to their entry into the tournament. Oshkosh had the best defense in the WIAC, holding opponents to an average of 51.1 points per game. They also had the biggest scoring margin of positive 13.2 and a three point percentage at 34.8 percent. Schmidt, who finished with the eleventh highest points per game average in the conference with 11, said even though she is disappointed that her team lost sooner than expected, she is still proud of how hard everyone worked all year. “I would say we could take a lot from this season,” Schmidt said. “We beat everyone in our conference at their place including winning a conference tournament championship for the third year straight. This shows how tough of a team we were considering our conference is one of the best. There was never a day we could show up to the gym and expect to win. We had to work for everything we earned.”