By Travis Nyhus, UWEC Sports Information
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women's basketball team's comeback effort fell short as the Blugolds were defeated 51-43 by Stevens Institute of Technology (N.J.) in Las Vegas for the D3hoops.com Classic.
After falling down 5-0 quickly, Kayla Hanley (Jr. – Chippewa Falls, WI) brought the Blugolds back with an offensive rebound put back and then hit a three. Hanley would knock down a jump shot with 6:15 left in the first period to notch the game at seven apiece. That was all Eau Claire would manage to score in the first period as Stevens went on a 7-0 run to end the first to take a 14-7 lead.
Neither team did much in the second period offensively as both teams forced tough long-range shots with strong defense. Leading scorer Anna Graaskamp (Fr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) started to get things going, adding four points in the quarter but Stevens would take a 20-12 lead into halftime.
The Blugolds struggled from the field in the first half shooting 5-25 (20 percent). The defense would step up in place of the offense and hold the Ducks to 9 of 34 (26.5 percent) from the field. Hanley (8) and Graaskamp (4) combined for all of the team's points in the first half. Graaskamp also added four rebounds by intermission.
The Blugolds started to increase their offensive production in the third period. Unfortunately, the same could be said for the Ducks. Graaskamp pulled the Blugolds within six with an early third quarter bucket. The Ducks responded with 10 straight taking a 30-14 lead. A couple of threes in the last 2:30 of the period by Maddie Dunathan (So. – Hortonville, WI) and Hanley kept the Blugolds in the game, trailing 36-24 heading into the fourth.
A fast break bucket by Hallee Hoeppner (Fr. – Winona, MN) pulled the Blugolds back within ten in their first possession of the fourth period. A 9-2 run by Stevens gave the Ducks a 45-28 lead with six minutes remaining in the game. Eau Claire would not give in, getting a 7-0 run in next minute and a half.
Still down nine, a Graaskamp jumper with 1:33 left tightened the score to 47-40. Two made free throws by Hanley cut the Stevens lead to four, 47-43, with 47 seconds remaining. That would be all the Blugolds could muster as the Ducks closed things out by making their free throws.
Hanley led the team with 16 points along with four boards and four assists. Graaskamp kept up her strong play in her first year with 15 points and eight rebounds.
The second half saw much better offensive production from the Blugolds who made 12-27 (44.4 percent) shots from the field. For the game, Eau Claire shot 17-52 (32.7 percent) overall and 4-16 (25 percent) from behind the arc. The defense kept Eau Claire in the game, holding Stevens to only 20-60 (33.3 percent) on field goals and 2-14 (15.4 percent) from three. The Blugolds outscored the Ducks in the paint, 22-12.
The Blugolds (5-5) are back in action for their second game of the D3hoops.com Classic on Friday, December 30 against Pacific Lutheran University (Wash.).
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.