By Travis Nyhus, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team returned home for the first time in nearly three weeks when they hosted the College of Saint Benedict Tuesday night. A thrilling second half comeback fueled by 15-0 run gave the Blugolds a 62-50 win.
Coming off the Sunday's loss to Saint Mary's, the Blugolds quickly put that behind them thanks to some suffocating defense to jump ahead 9-0. The interior defense, led by Elly Boles, (Jr. – Prescott, WI) who was making her first start of the season, prevented any easy scoring opportunities for the Blazers. Saint Benedict would not get on the board until the 3:28 mark of the first quarter. At the end of the first period the Blugolds led 12-4, holding the Blazers to just 1-8 (12.5 percent) from the field.
In the second quarter the Blazers would respond, led by leading scorer Chelsey Guetter. Eau Claire would remain scoreless in the second until Jenni LaCroix (Jr. – Verona, WI) drilled a three to maintain a 15-9 advantage three minutes into the second. The Blugolds would hold onto the lead until Guetter hit a three with 3:38 before half as the Blazers led 26-21 heading into the locker room.
The slow second quarter seemed to carry into the third as the Blazers had a 10-point advantage halfway through the period and were up by 11 with 2:09 remaining in the quarter. The Blazers appeared to be pulling away when Bree Meier (Sr. – Lakeville, MN/South) gave the team the boost they needed. Back-to-back triples and the Blugolds were back in the game. A layup in transition by LaCroix with five seconds remaining pulled the Blugolds within two, 38-36, on a 9-0 run to end the quarter.
The run would continue in the fourth. A three-point play by Anna Graaskamp (Fr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) gave the Blugolds their first lead since the second quarter. By the time the Blazers put another point on the board, the Blugolds had 15-0 run and a 43-38 lead. Graaskamp was the go-to player for the Blugolds in the fourth as she would convert free throw after three throw and convert inside for 13 fourth quarter points. Leading 53-42 with 1:51 in the game, the Blugolds would convert 5-8 from the line to close things out.
Graaskamp had a game high 19 points and added six rebounds. Arien Brennan (Sr. – Hayward, WI) was the difference maker on the boards, tallying 14 rebound while chipping in seven points. She also held Guetter to only four second half points after having 11 in the first half.
The Eau Claire bench outscored Saint Benedict 31-16, led by ten apiece from LaCroix and Maddie Dunathan (So. – Hortonville, WI). Meier also contributed nine on 3-3 from behind the arc. The Blugolds shot 40.4 percent (19-47) from the field in the game and 18-25 (72 percent) at the free throw line. Eau Claire also continued their strong rebounding on the season, holding a 41-29 advantage in the win.
The Blugolds (5-4) are off until they travel to Las Vegas for the D3hoops.com Classic on December 28.
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.