16th-Ranked Blugolds' Hot Start Deflates Titans

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UW-Eau Claire bolted to a 17-2 lead and pulled away for a 68-49 women's basketball victory over UW-Oshkosh on Wednesday (Feb. 1) in Eau Claire. The Blugolds (17-4/10-2 WIAC) entered the game ranked 16th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com.

The trio of Nicole Christianson, Ellen Plendl and Callie Halama combined for 54 points and 23 rebounds in the contest. Christianson tallied 20 points, while Plendl totaled 18 points and nine rebounds and Halama 16 points and 10 boards. It was the sixth double-double of the season for Halama.

After missing three of its first four shots, UW-Eau Claire began rolling with a Christianson three-point basket. The Blugolds then made their next five shots, with Plendl sinking a lay-up to give the host squad a 17-2 lead with 13:55 left in the opening period.

Megan Wenig (Jr. • Oshkosh) drove for a lay-in and Megan Lund (Sr. • Reedsville) buried a three-point shot to pull UW-Oshkosh to within 17-9. UW-Eau Claire took advantage of a trio of UW-Oshkosh turnovers with successive Halama baskets to stretch its advantage to 25-11 at the 8:28 mark. The Blugolds then went back to their inside game, getting two hoops apiece from Halama and Plendl to take a 34-21 lead to intermission.

The margin remained in the teens for the majority of the second half. Katie Kitzke (Jr. • South Milwaukee) swished a jumper and a three-pointer in one minute to make it 41-28. After another Kitzke basket and Nichole Paisar's (Fr. • Leopolis) deep conversion, the Titans trailed 44-33 with 10 minutes remaining.

UW-Oshkosh (7-13/1-10 WIAC) registered seven of its final 13 points on free throws. Wenig and Sarah Stecker (So. • Menasha) each sank a pair before Kitzke drilled three foul shots with a lay-up in between.

Kitzke counted 15 points and Wenig 11 to lead UW-Oshkosh in scoring. Both players led the Titans with five rebounds. UW-Oshkosh also received six points and two rebounds from Heather Conroy (Fr. • Wisconsin Dells) and five points from Stecker.

UW-Oshkosh shot 36.2 percent (17-47) from the field and 90.9 percent (10-11) from the free-throw line. The Titans made five of their 12 three-point shots for 41.7 percent accuracy.

UW-Eau Claire shot 48 percent (28-58) from the field, 45.5 percent (5-11) behind the three-point arc and 58.3 percent (7-12) from the free-throw line. The Blugolds won the rebounding battle, 34-28, while committing just 10 turnovers. UW-Oshkosh turned the basketball over 17 times.

UW-Oshkosh continues its five-game road swing at UW-Superior on Saturday (Feb. 4).