The nationally ranked UW Oshkosh women’s basketball went 1-1 over the weekend at the College of Saint Benedict’s Tip-off Tournament in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
The Titans started the weekend by dropping a nail-biter to the Bethany Lutheran College (BLC) Vikings by a score of 65-61. Senior point guard led UWO with a season-high 28 points, but it was BLC’s fourth quarter shooting performance that allowed them to pull away late in the game.
The Vikings shot 6-for-9 from the field while going 8-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Forward Hanna Geistfeld led BLC with 17 points on 6-for-17 shooting effort while also going 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
UWO had some shooting troubles in this one, as they shot 20-for-54 from the field.
Senior forward Nikki Arneson said that despite there being some areas of the team’s game that need attention, she is pleased with everyone’s performance thus far. She also said that the national ranking has really put this team on the radar.
“We obviously still have a lot to work on but I’m proud of everyone up and down the roster,” Arneson said. “Going into every game this year we will have a target on our back, so it is important that we come into each game looking to take care of business no matter who the opponent is.”
Sophomore guard Kennedy Osterman said the loss was due to the team’s inability to take care of the ball down the stretch, but she also stated that she sees this loss as a learning opportunity for the future games.
“In that fourth quarter we had some turnovers that turned into points for them, and then rebounding at the end hurt us,” Ostermann said. “Losing is never fun, but how we respond to it is what really matters.”
The Titans’ response came in the form of an 82-31 blowout over the University of Minnesota, Morris.
UWO had a much better shooting performance in this game, as they went 31-for-65 from the field.
Arneson led the team in points with 15, sophomore Kayce Vaile had a double double with 12 points and 14 rebounds and head coach Brad Fischer was able to allow 15 different women to get some experience on the hardwood in a game that got out of hand quickly.
The Titans started the game on a 19-0 run before Minnesota scored their first points of the game on a three pointer eight minutes and 11 seconds into the game.
Osterman specifically said she was impressed with Vaile’s play down low and freshman Mackenzie Tlachac’s eight-point performance where she shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.
“We played against some really strong posts, and Kayce Vaile really stepped up and played big minutes for us,” she said. “Mackenzie Tlachac played like a beast in the Minnesota, Morris game and finished with 8 points.”
As the team looks again, Arneson said that taking care of business in conference play, as the Titans have in the last three years as Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) champs, is a priority.
“It’s our goal again to roll through conference and get back to that conference championship game, but ultimately our sights are set on being the best team we can be by the time the NCAA tournament/postseason comes around.” she said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament was cancelled during the Sweet 16 round in 2020, and the Titans were one of the remaining teams.
Ostermann said that the restriction to conference play last year made the team appreciate the value of being able to play each game even more.
“Everything that happened last year was a huge learning experience… not everything is guaranteed,” Ostermann said. “We came back this season with eight seniors, and two years ago they were in the tournament and it got canceled. I know that they are all hungry for this season to finish everything they started.”
Arneson, who will be playing her last games for UWO basketball this year, said she is thankful for the opportunity to be able to play a full season once again.
“We are grateful to get the opportunity back,” Arneson said. “Obviously for us upperclassmen we know what it is like to get that taken away from us.”
UWO took on Edgewood College in Edgewood on Wednesday night, and the results can be found on the UWO Athletics page. The Titans will then welcome Alma College (Michigan) to the Kolf Sports Center on Friday before taking on St. Norbert College on Saturday. Friday’s will tip-off at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s game will tip-off at 3 p.m.