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Blugolds Halt Titans' Seven-Game Winning Streak

Madeline Staples scored 11 points, including a game-high five free throws, and grabbed four rebounds against the Blugolds.
Madeline Staples scored 11 points, including a game-high five free throws, and grabbed four rebounds against the Blugolds.

The nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh women's basketball team had its seven-game winning streak snapped with a 67-62 setback at UW-Eau Claire on Saturday (Feb. 3).

UW-Eau Claire (15-6, 7-3 WIAC), which defeated the Titans for the first time in seven meetings, took the lead for good at 53-51 on a 3-pointer by Jenni LaCroix with 6:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back layups from Isabella Samuels and Eliza Campbell pulled UW-Oshkosh within 56-55 with 2:42 to go, but UW-Eau Claire's Kelsey Bakken drilled a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and the Blugolds led by at least four points the rest of the way in a matchup of the top two offenses in the WIAC.

UW-Oshkosh (17-3, 7-3 WIAC), ranked 13th in the NCAA Division III by D3hoops.com, falls into a three-way tie for second place in the league standings with UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse (14-7, 7-3) with four games remaining.

UW-Whitewater (18-3, 8-2 WIAC) is now alone atop the conference. Defending WIAC champion UW-Oshkosh hosts 19th-ranked UW-Whitewater on Wednesday (Feb. 7) in Kolf Sports Center.

UW-Eau Claire's Anna Graaskamp led all players with 18 points on 9-for-14 shooting from the field and eight rebounds on Saturday.

LaCroix added 15 points and four assists for the Blugolds, who also received 11 points, four rebounds and three assists from Bakken.

Maddie Dunathan chipped in 10 points, three rebounds and three assists off the Blugold bench. Dunathan, who entered the game leading the conference with 67 assists, went 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

UW-Eau Claire concluded the game with advantages in field goal percentage (.481 to .386), rebounds (33-32) and assists (16-6). The Blugolds went into the game averaging a league-leading 16.9 assists per contest.

Campbell and Emma Melotik led four UW-Oshkosh double-digit scorers with 12 points apiece. Madeline Staples and Samuels added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Titans.

UW-Oshkosh's Chloe Pustina contributed five points to go along with a team-high six rebounds and four assists.

The Titans, who allowed a season-high point total, went into Saturday leading the conference with 74.4 points per game and a .451 field goal percentage while UW-Eau Claire listed second by averaging 67.7 points and shooting at a .440 clip.

UW-Oshkosh jumped out to an 11-6 lead, but the Blugolds scored seven unanswered points to reclaim a 13-11 advantage.

Trailing 14-13 entering the second period, UW-Eau Claire made three straight shots from the floor during a stretch of just over two minutes to take a 25-20 advantage before UW-Oshkosh tied the score at 25 at intermission following four straight points by Campbell.

A layup by Graaskamp early in the third quarter gave the Blugolds a 27-25 lead it would not relinquish until midway through the fourth period.

Dunathan's third and final 3-pointer of the game extended UW-Eau Claire's advantage to 46-35 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Titans answered with seven straight points to trim their deficit to 46-42 following a 3-pointer from Melotik at the 9:36 mark of the fourth period.

Melotik, who concluded the game with four 3-pointers, converted another long-range jumper that pulled the Titans within 50-47. Consecutive baskets from Pustina and Campbell then gave UW-Oshkosh its last advantage at 51-50 with 6:44 to play. The Titans shot 6-for-8 from the field during a 16-4 scoring run that spanned nearly seven minutes and provided the Titans the lead.

UW-Eau Claire's win was its first over UW-Oshkosh since a 64-61 decision on Feb. 21, 2015, in Eau Claire. The Titans defeated the Blugolds, 70-59, on Jan. 20 in Oshkosh.

UW-Oshkosh had won its previous 37 games in which it scored at least 60 points.