The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater women's basketball team defeated UW-Eau Claire, 74-68, in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference tournament semifinals Wednesday evening at Kachel Gymnasium.
With the win, top-seeded UW-Whitewater advances to host No. 3 seed UW-Oshkosh on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m. in the WIAC Championship final at Kachel Gymnasium. The team seeks its second consecutive tournament title.
The Warhawks (23-3 overall) scored the first 14 points in the game and kept the Blugolds scoreless for just over six minutes in the first quarter.
Senior guard Brooke Trewyn and junior forward Sarah Schumacher led the Warhawks with 16 points each. Senior guard Malia Smith recorded 14 points and seven rebounds and senior forward Andrea Meinert tallied nine points and six rebounds.
UW-Whitewater exploded on the offensive end in the first quarter, outscoring UW-Eau Claire 19-8.
At 4:46, Becky Deichl finished a basket in the paint to give the Warhawks a 14-0 lead.
Trewyn connected with Meinert inside with three minutes remaining in the first quarter to make the Warhawks' lead 16-2. Sophomore guard Camri Conley found Smith behind the arc and Smith drained the 3-pointer to extend the lead 19-2.
Meinert sank a pair of free throws in the second quarter at 8:14 to give the UW-Whitewater a 23-13 advantage.
UW-Eau Claire (18-9) cut the lead to four, but the Warhawks responded with a basket from Schumacher inside and kept the lead for the remainder of the half.
With just over a minute remaining in the half, Smith drained a 3-pointer and UW-Whitewater would finish at the half with a 30-26 lead.
A quick foul by UW-Eau Claire in the third quarter sent Schumacher to the line where she added two for the Warhawks and extended the lead 31-26.
UW-Eau Claire came within one at 7:46 in the period, which would be the closest they would get to UW-Whitewater in the contest.
A layup from junior forward Olivia Freckmann gave the Warhawks a four-point lead with six and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
With 2:30 remaining in the third, Smith tallied a steal and finished the layup to extend UW-Whitewater's lead to eight at 47-39.
Smith recorded a 3-point play early in the fourth at 8:07 to give the Warhawks a nine-point advantage.
With 4:07 remaining in the contest, UW-Eau Claire came within two points. The next possession Smith was fouled on her shot behind the arc and made 3-of-3 from the line.
At 1:31 in the fourth Trewyn grabbed the offensive board and went back up with making the score, 67-58.
With nine seconds remaining in play, Trewyn was sent to the line and hit both free throws to account for the final margin.
The Warhawks kept the lead the entire game, shot 44.6 percent from the floor and shot 20-of-28 from the free throw line.
UW-Whitewater will host UW-Oshkosh on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. in the WIAC Championship game at Kachel Gymnasium.