Outright champs!

Women hold Blugolds to lowest-scoring performance in program history and claim 13th regular season WIAC title and top seed in the conference

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Lydia Sanchez

Junior guard Olivia Campbell looks for a teammate to pass to.

The nationally ranked UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team held UW-Eau Claire to its lowest point total in program history in a 67-23 victory during the last game of the regular season on Saturday at Kolf Sports Center.

The 44-point win margin is the largest ever in the series between UWO and UWEC since the Titans defeated the Blugolds 82-37 in their first meeting on Feb. 27, 1975.

The Titans, who entered Saturday’s contest ranked 15th in the NCAA Division III by d3hoops.com, held the Blugolds to no more than seven points in a single quarter on their way to crystalizing their league-leading 13 regular season conference titles. This is the second time in three years the Titans served as outright Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions.

UWO rallied for the first 13 points of the game before UWEC’s Kelsey Bakken stopped the Titan run with a three-pointer with 3:16 left in the first quarter. The Titans went on to allow only seven Blugold points while tacking on 24 more of their own to end the first half, up 37-11.

UWO closed out the game by holding a minimum of an 11-point lead the last 32 minutes of the contest while outperforming UWEC 29-12 in the third and fourth quarter.

Titan center Isabella Samuels led both squads with 12 points on 100 percent shooting from the floor. Samuels leads the WIAC in field goal percentage with .684 on the season.

Among the 12 Titan scorers, guard Jessie Rabas registered 11 points off the Titans bench while forward Melanie Schneider and center Karsyn Rueth added on eight apiece.

UWO forward Nikki Arneson tallied a game-high four assists and four blocks while recording six points. Guards Brooklyn Bull and Leah Porath also had six points each for UWO.

With all 18 Titans receiving minutes, the UWO reserves accounted for 37 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and four blocks.

Freshman forward Kaycee Gierczak led UWEC with 10 points off the bench as the Titans held the Blugolds starting lineup to just nine points on five-for-31 shooting from the field.

UWEC’s junior guard Hallee Hoeppner, the WIAC’s leading scorer with 19 points per game, was held to two points on 1-for-7 shooting from the floor.

Senior guard Chloe Pustina said the key to their dominating win against UWEC was defense; a component head coach Brad Fischer stresses highly.

“We play a defense that relies a lot on our teammates to be in the right spots at the right times,” Pustina said. “We all worked together to be exactly where we needed [to be]. Our defense is our winning edge.”

Fischer said the Titan’s unselfish efforts awarded them their final win of the regular season.

“Our girls this season have been super unselfish, and I think that ended up paying off for them,” Fischer said. “The key for us has always been defense. If we get the stops and convert offensively, we can accomplish the things we did against Eau Claire.”

With the win, UWO earned the top seed and a first-round bye for the WIAC Championship that begins Wednesday. The Titans will host a semifinal round game against the lowest remaining seed at 7 p.m. Friday in Kolf Sports Center.

Senior center Erin Vande Zande said that hosting semifinals at home will be an advantage the Titans need headed into the postseason.

“It’s going to be very important that we bring a lot of energy to this game,” Vande Zande said. “Being able to play on our home court with our fans will ensure that we have that energy throughout the game!”

The Titans concluded the regular season with an overall record of 22-3 and a 12-2 record in the WIAC.