Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Titan women lose in Championship game

Kylie Moe passes the ball at the top of the key against UWW. Moe averages 5.9 points per game.
[/media-credit] Kylie Moe passes the ball at the top of the key against UWW. Moe averages 5.9 points per game.
Alex Richard splits the defense on the way to the basket against the Warhawks in Sunday’s game.
[/media-credit] Alex Richard splits the defense on the way to the basket against the Warhawks in Sunday’s game.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh women’s basketball team took home second place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference post-season tournament on Sunday. They won against UW-River Falls in the semifinal contest and lost against UW-Whitewater in the championship bout, 65-56.

The team earned an at-large bid into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III post-season tournament that begins this Friday. Oshkosh earned both a bid and the right to host based on their regular season performance, and head coach Brad Fischer said the team considers this another opportunity to go out and improve upon their season.

“Our goal for the first weekend is to win that four-team tournament to get to the Sweet Sixteen,” Fischer said. “Then [there] are four more teams to a site and just to be the best team at that site. I am not necessarily sure if we care who we really play, we know that whoever it is is going to be really good. We just got to come on Friday wherever it is and whoever we play and be a lot better version of ourselves than we were [Sunday].”

UWO hosts Calvin College from Michigan on Friday for the second game of the day in Oshkosh. The Knights hold a regular season record of 22-5, with a conference record of 12-4.

Oshkosh holds the advantage in winning percentage as well as conference record, but Calvin barely betters the Titans in offensive and defensive categories, making for an interesting first round matchup for UWO. The winner of this game, as well as the game prior, to this contest will face off the following afternoon with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on the line.

Sunday’s contest against the Warhawks marked the fourth consecutive year that the Titans appeared in the WIAC post-season tournament championship. This also was the fourth consecutive year Fischer led UWO to the championship after not making an appearance in his first year after taking over Oshkosh Women’s basketball team.

For the Titans, the first quarter was their second-highest scoring quarter of the contest, but they only tallied 11 points. The team took 18 shots and knocked down five to hit at a clip of only 27.8 percent.

Point distribution was almost even in the first period, with starters producing six and reserves putting up five. Senior forward Eliza Campbell led the cause in the first 10 minutes, shooting two-of-five from the field and bringing down an offensive rebound on her way to four quick points.

Senior forward Alex Richard knocked down one of her two first-period shots for Oshkosh, putting up two points and one steal. For the bench, junior guard Jaimee Pitt knocked down a field goal and earned two points, with freshman guard Kylie Moe hitting a shot from the charity stripe for her only first-quarter point.

The limited shooting performance by the Titans was a precursor for how the next two quarters would go for them, as the combined totals of the second and third quarters fell one point short of UWO’s score in its first quarter performance.

The second quarter ended up being much worse offensively for Oshkosh, as they put up a measly four points. Pitt was the only Titan to register a made basket from the field in this period, with her and senior guard Morgan Kokta hitting one free throw each for the quarter total.

Shooting one-for-ten from the field in the quarter put UWO at a 19-point deficit going into halftime. Fischer said the shots just were not falling for the Titans and that is not necessarily due to shot selection.

“We just did not see the ball go through the rim enough,” Fischer said. “We had good shooters and good post players around the rim and we got good shots, but when you keep seeing them roll out and roll around the rim, saying, ‘hey we finally got one’ and having it roll out, I think the burden just adds up to where it makes it really hard for the next person and the next person.”

Whitewater improved their shooting performance going into half, raising their conversion percentage almost 30 percent, a huge factor for creating an insurmountable deficit for the Titans to attempt to get out of.

Coming out of halftime, Oshkosh faced a daunting deficit, one that only grew as the third quarter progressed. In the third, UWO put up six points and shot 14.3 percent from the field, which was not enough to draw the game close again.

Senior guard Taylor Schmidt got on the board in the third quarter, as she knocked down a shot to go along with a defensive rebound and a steal. Rounding the scoring for the period was Pitt, who earned two shots at the charity stripe and knocked down one, and Samuels, who made one field goal and converted her lone shot at the line.

Schmidt said even with the offensive struggles the team faced, this game presented an opportunity for the team to learn from its’ mistakes and prepare for the post season.

“We can take a lot of lessons away from what we did wrong,” Schmidt said. “I think just being able to realize [these lessons] and emphasize it more during practice and reflect on what we did wrong and make sure we practice and focus on what all went wrong in this game.”

In the fourth quarter the roles changed, as Oshkosh went on a major offensive, cutting 21 points out of the deficit and getting within eight points of UW-Whitewater before time ran out and the comeback was thwarted.

UWO’s 35 fourth quarter points were 14 more than they had scored in the three prior quarters combined, setting the stage for an uphill battle. Oshkosh shot three times more shots than the Warhawks and made 12 compared to the six baskets by Whitewater.

Fischer used matchup scenarios in the final quarter, as defensive pressure tactics were woven into the quick-strike attack that Oshkosh adapted. Campbell, Kokta and Schmidt all played the entire 10-minute quarter, with Richard and junior guard Emma Melotik being subbed out at times to bring in defensive or offensive-minded players.

Off the bench in the final quarter, Pitt led with six points on a perfect two-of-two shooting from behind the arc in an efficient one minute cumulative span. Senior forward Madeline Staples knocked down her only shot of the quarter in three minutes, and non-scoring contributions were made by freshman guards Olivia Campbell and Moe, as well as sophomore forward Melanie Schneider.

The energy displayed in the final quarter is something assistant coach Kelly McNiff said the team can take as a positive.

“We did not back down; we did not give up,” McNiff said. “With the score the way it was, we could have hung our heads and packed it in. But, we battled and had a good third quarter and as long as we get into the tournament, that provides us with a little momentum.”

This contest marked the end of UWO’s streak of winning home games for almost a year. Even with the result, Fischer said the season the team has had up until this game speaks for itself.

“We just have to play well,” Fischer said. “We are 24-3 and I think that we have probably played five or six bad halves this year. We have had two really close losses, and this one I would not consider close, so I hope we have seen all sides of it now where we have some experience in understanding the next situation we are going to be in.”

As a team, Oshkosh gathered more rebounds, had more second chance points and had a stronger bench showing, with 20 of their 65 points coming from the reserves. In most offensive and general game categories, however, Whitewater held the advantage over the Titans.

On Friday, UWO took on UW-River Falls and won the semifinal game at home, 56-48. Oshkosh had earned the regular season WIAC title, giving them the first-place seed and subsequent first-round bye in the post-season tournament.

In the first quarter, both teams were tied at 13 points, with each team shooting around 30 percent. Kokta led the way in the first with four points on two-of-five shooting while also bringing down three rebounds and recording one block.

Other contributions came from Schmidt, who shot fifty percent in the quarter and added two points; Pitt, who knocked down a shot, junior guard Kendall Truttman, who hit her only shot, and Samuels, who scored a basket and made one free throw.

In the second, offensive woes plagued the Titans, as their shooting percentage fell to 21.4. The Falcons opened up an eight-point advantage in the quarter, as the team made more field goals, 3-pointers and free throws than UWO.

Going into halftime, Oshkosh faced a 28-20 deficit to a team that coming into the contest had only nine wins in the season. Coming out of the half, the squad upped their offensive output and changed the tide of the game.

The third quarter was the highest scoring quarter of the game for both teams combined, as UWO put up 20 points, the same amount it had going into half. The Falcons were held to a mere seven points in the third, setting the stage for Oshkosh to gain the lead again.

The Titans increased their shooting percentage to 50 percent in the third period, including making four of six shots from the line. Campbell led the charge for Oshkosh by putting up six points on two field goals and two free throws, helping the Titans change an eight-point deficit into a five-point advantage.

Points for Oshkosh in the third also came from Staples, who hit both her shots in five minutes for four points, Schmidt and Richard, who had three apiece and Kokta and Samuels with two each. UWO held the Falcons to two made shots on thirteen attempts, equating to a dismal 15.4 percent from the field.

Being able to carry the momentum gained from the first half and keeping it through the rest of the game is something Schmidt said is a team effort.

“Honestly, I think it is just our confidence,” Schmidt said. “I think we have to have self-confidence as well as team confidence, and I think that if we can get that confidence out of all sixteen of us and all three coaches, I think we will be successful in the long run.”

In the fourth quarter, neither Oshkosh nor River Falls had the best offensive showing, with each squad only converting on four baskets. UWO received crucial minutes and production from their starting unit, as 11 of their final period 16 points came from the starting five.

Melotik and Schmidt both tallied three points in this period, with Melotik sinking her only attempt of the quarter, a 3-pointer. Kokta and Campbell both earned their two points from the charity stripe, and Richard rounded out the scoring for the starters by knocking down a free throw of her own.

For the remaining five points, the bench unit had three players contribute. Both Pitt and sophomore guard Chloe Pustina knocked down a shot for two points each, and Samuels made half of her free throws in the quarter for the last point.

Students have the opportunity to receive free tickets to Friday’s game by going to the athletics administrative suite in Kolf anytime up until the start of the game.

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