By Kylie Bowman
The week of WIAC tournament games had a frustrating end for the University of Wisconsin–Stout women’s basketball team, as they fell 86-81 to University of Wisconsin–Superior at the Johnson Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Feb. 25. This loss knocked the Blue Devils out of the WIAC Women’s Basketball Championships and ended UW–Stout’s season.
UW–Stout battled the Yellowjackets twice during the regular season, winning both games. On Dec. 5, 2013, UW–Stout bested the Yellowjackets 66-49, and on Feb. 12 the Blue Devils took home another win, 77-70.
Although UW–Stout had a successful season against UW–Superior, Tuesday’s close loss hit the players hard as it ended their chances in the WIAC tournament. The coaches and players interviewed at the beginning of the season all expressed
their high hopes for the WIAC conference this year.
Coach Mark Thomas, who just finished his 27th season coaching the women’s team said, “This year’s team is different than last year in terms of size. We have 15 new players who came in, bringing more competition to practice and more options on the court.”
“Our bigger team this year definitely worked to our advantage by staying fresh on the court,” said captain Sami Schoeder, a senior from Durand, Wis. “I would say our team had a lot of potential for the WIAC conference this year.”
The Blue Devils came into Tuesday’s game against UW–Superior with a record of 11-15, 7-10 WIAC versus UW–Superior’s record of 15-11, 8-9 WIAC.
Kyleigh Hebert, a sophomore from Spencer, Wis., led the Blue Devils, scoring 15 of her team-high 22 points in the last 10 minutes of the game. Before that point, UW–Stout had trailed for the entire game and by as much as 17 points in the second half.
The final minutes were a constant battle of who would come out on top. Four lead changes and five ties happened within the last five minutes, making the game tense for both teams.
With Hebert leading the charge against the Yellowjackets, the fourth quarter of the game was a close affair as the Blue Devils went on an 18-4 run to take a 71-70 lead with 4:36 to go.
UW–Superior tied the game with a free throw, and seconds later, regained the lead with a layup. Hebert’s layup at tied the game back up at 73.
The Yellowjackets nailed another free throw to regain the lead. Moments later, Tara Matter, a freshman from Spencer, Wis., hit two free throws from the foul line, giving UW–Stout a slim lead of 75-74. Play continued back-and-forth until the final 20 seconds, when UW-Superior hit four free throws to seal the victory.
Though this loss ended UW–Stout’s season, the women’s basketball team had a fairly successful season and a young team to build on their prospects for next season. Although seniors Rachel Hanley of Minong, Wis. and Schoeder won’t be here next year, their dedication and commitment to Blue Devil basketball over the last four years will be sorely missed. Good luck to both in all their future endeavors!