By Travis Nyhus, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire women's basketball team dominated the second and third quarter on their way to a 59-43 victory over UW-River Falls in Zorn Arena in their first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game of the season.
Things started out slowly for the Blugolds who were down 9-3 when Maddie Dunathan (So. – Hortonville, WI) hit two threes on back-to-back possessions. An Alleah Voigt (Sr. – Neilsville, WI) jump shot with 3:58 gave the Blugolds an 11-10 lead. At the end of the first quarter Eau Claire held a 15-12 advantage.
The second quarter was where the Blugolds started to pull away, led primarily by their defense. A Bree Meier (Sr. – Lakeville, MN/South) three gave the Blugolds a 22-12 lead on a 7-0 run to start the quarter and a 16-2 run dating back to the first. River Falls was held to five second quarter points as the Blugolds headed to the locker room with a 28-17 lead. The Eau Claire defense forced 13 first half turnovers and limited the Falcons to only 5-22 (22.7 percent) from the field.
Anna Graaskamp (Fr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) led the Blugold offensive attack in first half notching 10 points to go along with five rebounds. Eau Claire was 12-26 (46.2 percent) on field goals at the half.
It was more of the same on both ends of the court for the Blugolds opening up the third quarter. Dunathan connected for another three with 4:34 left in the period to cap off an 8-2 run and give Eau Claire a 38-22 lead. By the time the quarter ended, the Blugolds were leading 47-24.
Two free throws by Kayla Hanley (Jr. – Chippewa Falls, WI) 2:25 into the fourth gave the Blugolds their largest lead of the game, 51-24. A 21-4 run since early in the second half was the blow to the Falcons that would earn the Blugolds a 1-0 start in conference play.
In the second half the Blugolds shot 10-27 (37 percent) from the field and connected on all eight free throw attempts.
For the game, Eau Claire made 22-53 (41.5 percent) of their field goals and went 7-20 (35 percent) from three. The Blugolds led the rebounding margin 36-26 and scored 19 points off of turnovers.
Graaskamp scored a game-high 18 points and added 11 boards to complete the double-double. Dunathan ended the game with 12 points on 4-6 from behind the arc. Arien Brennan (Sr. – Hayward, WI) solidified the bench play with tough defense on the Falcons top scorer while adding six points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.
The Blugolds (7-5, 1-0) are back in action when they travel to UW-Whitewater on Saturday with tip-off set for 3 p.m.
Follow all the action this season on Blugold Game Day.