EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team hosted Simpson College in their first game of their Tip-Off Classic, falling to the Storm 74-66.
Anna Graaskamp (Fr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) and Hallee Hoeppner (Fr. – Winona, MN) opened the game with back to back scores to give the Blugolds a quick 5-0 lead. The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Storm thundered back and took an 8-7 advantage.
Jumpers from Graaskamp and Kayla Hanley (Jr. – Chippewa Falls, WI) along with a Bree Meier (Sr. – Lakeville, MN/South) three keep Eau Claire close as Simpson held a 16-14 advantage after the first quarter.
Simpson came out strong from the break, jumping to a 23-18 lead before a Blugold timeout. Hoeppner nailed a triple out of the timeout but Simpson continued their hot streak from behind the arc to maintain the lead as Simpson took 40-31 advantage into the locker room. For the half, the Storm shot nearly 60 percent from the floor and from the three-point line while the Blugolds shot 33 percent from the field and just over 21 percent from behind the arc.
Both teams started out slowly in the second half but a Jordanna Midthun (Fr. – Waunakee, WI/DeForest) three-point play broke the Blugold drought at the 5:45 mark. However, Simpson had an answer from the three-point line to maintain the lead.
Eau Claire and Simpson would trade baskets before a Graaskamp put back forced a Simpson timeout as the Blugolds cut the lead to 50-41 with just over a minute to go in the third quarter. A defensive stop and jumpers by Graaskamp and Jenni La Croix (Jr. – Verona, WI) gave Eau Claire the momentum going into the fourth quarter down 52-45.
Free throws in the fourth frame brought the Blugolds back within three with just over five minutes left to play, then back-to-back steals and scores by Hoeppner and LaCroix brought Eau Claire within one, 59-58.
But Simpson wasn't done from the three-point line as they responded with their tenth triple of the night. Hoeppner keep the Blugolds within striking distance as she drilled a deep three with 28 seconds left to bring the score to 69-64 but Simpson would hit free throws down the stretch to seal with win, 74-66.
Graaskamp led the Blugolds with 14 points and seven rebounds while Hoeppner tallied 13. Simpson's Noreen Morrow led all scorers with 16 points.
Elly Boles (Jr. – Prescott, WI) also played key minutes off the bench for the Blugolds, contributing seven points, five rebounds and a block in 14 minutes of play.
The Blugolds out-rebounded the Storm 50-35 in the contest, including 20 offensive boards.
Eau Claire (0-2) will be back in action Saturday as they take on St. Olaf College at 5 p.m. The Oles fell to UW-Whitewater in Friday's first game, 61-51. Simpson will take on Whitewater at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.