Women’s basketball locks down on defense

Cory Sparks, Editor-in-Chief

The UW Oshkosh women’s basketball team split last week’s games with a 59-47 win against UW-Platteville on Wednesday and a 58-56 loss against UW-Stout Saturday.

Winning three of their last five games to improve to a 15-5 record, the Titans have made it a priority to make every opportunity count.

The Titans’s 4-4 conference record currently puts them behind UW-Whitewater (10-1), UW-Eau Claire (8-3) and UW-Stout (7-3) in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). 

Sophomore guard Kennedy Osterman said that as the conference and March Madness tournaments approach, playing as a unit is becoming increasingly important.

“Basketball takes the whole roster to win games,” Osterman said.

 The Titans are a veteran-led team, with seniors Leah Porath (14.4 points per game) and Nikki Arneson (12.4 points per game) leading the team in scoring.

 Arneson said the team is focusing on breaking the upcoming schedule down game by game and improving between each one.

“The main focus with the WIAC tournament coming up is just taking everything one day at a time [and] really trying to keep getting better each practice and game,” Arneson said. 

 Among other priorities for Oshkosh is staying focused on defense. 

 Last year, the Titans allowed a WIAC low 58.0 points per game. 

 The Titans are in position to claim that title again, as they’re allowing just 48.6 points per contest this time around.

 They hold a 5.2 point margin over UW-La Crosse, who is allowing 53.8 points per game.

 Osterman, who has 10 steals on the season, stated the importance of having a solid defense. Which creates opportunities on offense and boosts morale on the bench. 

 “Our defense is what gives us energy on offense,” she said. “Not only from who is on the floor but our bench energy is a major factor in our success.”

 That very defense is a huge reason the Titans are winning their games by an average of 18.5 points (second best behind UWW at 18.7).

 Arneson said preparation is a huge factor in being able to execute at such a high level. Taking practice reps as seriously as possible and having a defensive-minded plan going into each game has made a world of a difference for this team.

“Defense is one of the main things we work on at practice every day, and that is our main focus going into every game,” she said. 

 Conversely, UWO has been able to take care of the basketball extremely well. The team turns the ball over less than any other team in the WIAC at just 10.7 turnovers per game.

 Osterman said that by doing all of the little things right and staying technically sound, the team has been able to take good care of the ball this season.

 “We have focused on the fundamentals this year,” Osterman said. “Handling pressure and taking care of the ball are part of those fundamentals.”

 The Titans’s most recent conference game was played on Wednesday at home against UW-Stevens Point, and the results can be found on the UWO athletics page.  

Their next game is in La Crosse where they’ll take on the Eagles on Saturday with a 3 p.m. tip-off time.

 The conference tournament will start on Feb. 18, and Arneson made her thoughts on the team clear.

“The sky’s the limit for this team,” Arneson said. “We just have to stick together and keep getting better these next few weeks.”