Women’s basketball drops close one, stays optimistic for future playoff run
Advertisement - SNO Ad Network
These used to be the types of games in which players in years past expressed frustration.
But the current Pioneer women’s basketball team has preached a new attitude since the year’s beginning, and after a 75-71 home loss to University of Wisconsin-Superior (10-6, 4-4 WIAC) Saturday, a more positive tone rang loudest.
“We’re right there,” University of Wisconsin-Platteville Head Coach Megan Wilson said. “We’re in the hunt this year, which is different than it has been in past years. Right now, we have an opportunity to host a WIAC tournament game, being near that fourth seed. It’s just one game at this point, and I told the team that it’s time to move on.”
Two of the major keys to the Pioneers’ (10-8, 4-4 WIAC) success this season have been junior forwards Stacy Clark and Alyssa Krajco, who contributed 17 and 18 points, respectively, Saturday, despite the Yellowjackets’ double- and triple-teams in the post.
“Superior [double- and triple-teamed] a lot when we played them at their gym,” Clark said. “When they bunch the lane up like that, we have to kick it out and make some outside shots.”
Clark and Krajco both finished with a team-high four assists, with the main benefactor of those passes being junior guard Rachel Cropp, who ended with the game with 22 points and a career-high five 3-pointers.
“I looked for my shot today more than I ever have before,” Cropp said. “It helped a lot that my teammates were driving and kicking out to me, and passes from the post got me open.”
The Pioneers fell into a 10-0 hole early in the game as the Yellowjackets were persistent in driving the lane against UW-Platteville’s two-three zone defense.
UW-Superior also employed a full-court press defense after each of their early baskets, and the Pioneers struggled to cleanly pass the ball past half court for much of the early going.
“We have a press break; it wasn’t working. We kind of strayed away from it, and I feel like that is what led to some of the breakdowns,” Cropp said.
Wilson cited fundamental errors that the Pioneers were committing in their press break, including dribbling into traps and not getting the ball into the middle of the floor in order to allow for the most options as reasons for their mistakes.
All told, the Pioneers committed 15 turnovers and allowed 17 points off turnovers in the contest.
Aside from creating turnovers, the Yellowjackets also benefitted from their offensive rebounding in the first half, leading to 14 second-chance points.
Despite their mistakes early in the first half, the Pioneers were able to build momentum leading into halftime, mainly coming from an 8-0 run of their own with five minutes remaining in the half, resulting in a 37-30 Yellowjackets’ lead at the break.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle, as every time the Pioneers would cut the lead down to six or four, UW-Superior pushed it back up to 10 just as quickly.
UW-Platteville still had a chance, down six with just under a minute remaining, and then three with 26 seconds left, but the Yellowjackets held off the comeback attempt to seal the road win.
UW-Superior was led by an all-around performance from guard Sally Linzmeier, who finished with a game-high 26 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
The women’s team played last night (Jan. 29) at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and hosts their next matchup, a Feb. 5 WIAC contest against University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.