Women start the year the Titan way

Michael Johrendt

Beginning its season the best possible way, the UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team took home six consecutive wins in non-conference play since Nov. 17.

By recording four of the squad’s six victories in the Main View Tip-Off Tournament and UW-La Crosse Holiday Inn Express Thanksgiving Classic, the Titans have remained 11th in the country, according to D3hoops.com.

UWO faces St. Norbert

Marking the final game of November, the Titans traveled to play St. Norbert College on Wednesday, winning by a score of 79-49.

Leading the team was senior guard Emma Melotik and junior guard Chloe Pustina, who combined for 22 points in the victory. Melotik also had one rebound and one assist, while Pustina had three rebounds and three assists.

From the bench, senior Madeline Staples contributed 12 points for Oshkosh on five-of-six shooting. She also had six rebounds and two assists in the victory.

Beginning its season the best possible way, the UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team has taken home blank consecutive wins in non-conference play since Nov. 17.

By recording four of the squad’s blank victories in the Main View Tip-Off Tournament and UW-La Crosse Holiday Inn Express Thanksgiving Classic, UWO has remained 11th in the country, according to D3hoops.com.

Titans tip off tournament

Opening the year, the team played in Indiana against Otterbein University (Ohio) to begin the Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 17. UWO recorded an easy victory against the Cardinals, winning 77-48.

Oshkosh put up at least 15 points in every quarter, including 21 and 24 in the second and third quarters. Fourteen Titans saw time on the court in the game, with eight players playing double-digit minutes.

The team was led by junior forward Isabella Samuels, who scored 16 points on seven-of-ten shooting and brought down four rebounds.

Other Titans in double digits were junior guard Chloe Pustina, senior guard Emma Melotik and senior forward Eliza Campbell. Pustina had 11 points, Melotik scored 12 in 23 minutes and Campbell filled the stat box with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block.

In the second game of the tournament, UWO shot its highest field-goal percentage since 2006 on its way to winning the tournament championship. Facing off against the Manchester University Spartans, the Titans only allowed 27 points while scoring 95 to bring home the gold.

Leading Oshkosh were only two players in double figures, as Campbell put up 11 and freshman forward Karsyn Rueth scored 14 off the bench. As a team, UWO shot 63.1 percent from the field, including 50 percent from both the charity stripe (three for six) and from three (10 for 20).

Defensively, the Spartans were held to only 24.1 percent shooting by UWO, as Oshkosh allowed 11 made shots on 45 attempts. Four blocks, 10 steals and 31 defensive rebounds were all earned by the Titans.

UWO grounds Eagles

Splitting up the two early season tournaments for Oshkosh, Edgewood College traveled to UWO on Nov. 21. Continuing their strong performance, the Titans held Edgewood to 31 points in a 93-31 demolishing.

On their way to their third season victory, the Titans used a stout defensive effort, coupled with another strong offensive showing, to keep the Eagles at bay from the tip.

The Eagles put up 10-plus points in only one quarter, scoring 10 in the second quarter. Edgewood only had four, eight and nine points in the other three quarters.

On the offensive side of the ball, UWO only had two players in double figures. Freshman guard Leah Porath led the team with 20 points, while Samuels had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Thirteen players scored for Oshkosh in the contest, with eight having scored at least seven points. The starting unit combined for 32 points in the victory.

Oshkosh impresses in La Crosse

For the team’s second tournament of the nonconference portion of its schedule, UWO traveled to La Crosse for the Holiday Inn Express Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday and Sunday. The Titans won both contests in the tournament by a combined 49 points.

To open the tournament, Oshkosh faced off against Viterbo University on Saturday. In the team’s fourth consecutive blowout win, UWO defeated the V-Hawks by a score of 83-41.

Four Titans were in double figures, led with 14 points from senior guard Jaimee Pitt off the bench. Junior forward Melanie Schneider provided 13 points and five rebounds, Samuels had 12 points on a perfect six-for-six shooting from the field and Melotik had ten points and four assists in 16 minutes.

In the second game, Oshkosh had to fight back from a fourth-quarter deficit to record its fifth season victory against Luther College (Iowa). UWO defeated The Norse 72-65 on Monday.

UWO used a 27-point fourth quarter to close the deficit and gain an advantage that eventually led to the victory. Going into the final quarter, the Titans were down by five, 50-45.

Melotik said while the outcome of the Luther contest worked in the Titans’ favor, the challenge was necessary to help the team develop early on in the year.
“[It] was a huge game for us, because it was the first time we truly saw competition, and we were not just blowing a team out,” Melotik said. “I think being able to overcome adversity late in the game shows ourselves and everyone that is watching us that we are not just a team that [only] plays teams that are not necessarily as good as us. We can beat teams that are just as good, if not better.”

Only ten players played for Oshkosh during the game, as its bench depth was not utilized as much as it had been in previous games. Pitt and Schneider tied for the most minutes off the bench with 21 apiece.

Pitt said she relishes in the fact the game was as close as it was, pointing to how it helped show the team’s mettle early on in the season.

“It was insanely important [to come back],” Pitt said. “This was the closest game we have had this year so far, so it was a test to how good we are and what we can do. It proved that even if we are down at times, we can always compete and get back into any game no matter the situation.”

Leading the team to its fifth victory, Campbell put together an impressive offensive performance in 34 minutes. On 11-16 shooting, she had 28 points to go along with one block, three steals, two assists and four rebounds.

Supporting Campbell in the winning effort, Melotik had 14 points and five rebounds, while Schneider made six-of-nine shots for 13 points and grabbed six rebounds.

Head coach Brad Fischer said how the team handled facing its first deficit of the season helps paint a picture for how well the season can go.

“We didn’t face a lot of adversity, so it was important to have some things go against us and make some mistakes that we now have on film that we can correct and find out how tough we are,” Fischer said. “When you are down by eight on the road with eight minutes to go, it is definitely a toughness check, and I feel like our kids really answered the bell. You really grow confidence from winning games like that, learning how to make plays at the end. Those are all really invaluable things that you really don’t get out of winning by 15 or 20 points.”