UW-Whitewater Women Fall to Stevens Point in WIAC Championship, - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW-Whitewater Women Fall to Stevens Point in WIAC Championship, Await NCAA Bid

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MADISON, WI (WKOW) -- Too much Sam Barber, and clutch free throw shooting by Liz Althoff, helped UW-Stevens Point defeat UW-Whitewater 76-71 in overtime in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship game at Kachel Gym in Williams Center in Whitewater Sunday afternoon.  UW-Stevens Point, 23-5, earns the league's automatic berth in the NCAA III tournament.  UW-Whitewater, 21-6, the WIAC regular season champion, will learn where it will begin NCAA play when bids are announced Monday. 

The Warhawks could not have asked for a better start.  Kaitlyn Thill and Lisa Palmer scored four points each in an opening run, and UW-Stevens Point missed its first nine shots from the floor, as Whitewater took a 10-0 lead with 16:15 left in the first half. 

The Pointers were held scoreless for the first 4:43 of the game, but UW-SP senior guard Sam Barber, the leading scorer in the WIAC, shot her team back into the game -- and the lead.  Barber's three point at 12:01 pulled UW-SP within two, 16-14.  Whitewater regained the momentum and ran off eight straight, ending with Megan Theune's three point basket, to take a 24-14 lead at 10:32.  But Point, keyed by Barber, came roaring back with a 15-2 run that ended with Myranda Tyler's layup at 5:01 and the Pointers in front 29-26.  UW-SP took a 38-32 lead into halftime.

Barber was the first half story, scoring 16 points on 6-12 shooting, including 4-9 on three point field goals.  All of her points came in a ten minute stretch in the middle of the half.  Theune led UW-W with nine first half points, with Palmer leading both teams with seven rebounds.

The Pointers went 5-10 from beyond the arc in the first half, UW-W 2-4.  Shooting percentages from the floor were even, but Point had more attempts and more makes.  Whitewater had a 22-16 rebound advantage, but Stevens Point forced more turnovers, ten for UW-W to four for Point.

It was more Barber to start the second half.  She scored fourteen of the first sixteen points for UW-SP, and had 30 points by the time Stevens Point built up a 54-39 lead with 14:09 left in the game.

But that wasn't it.  Not for UW-W, which began the improbable climb back.  A three from freshman guard Abbie Reeves cut the Warhawk deficit to 57-52 at 7:46, and with 2:48 remaining Palmer's layup pulled UW-W within three, 63-60.  Senior center Cortney Kumerow sliced that to one, 63-62, with a layup with just 1:11 on the clock.  Point's Myranda Tyler scored to give UW-SP a 65-62 lead with 0:39 left, but senior guard Mary Merg's driving layin with 0:24 left cut it back to one, 65-64.  Point's Liz Althoff was fouled with 0:23 left in regulation and put in both free throws to make it 67-64 Stevens Point.  On the final possession Merg hit a three with five seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Whitewater never led in overtime.  Barber made 1-2 free throws with 1:38 left to put Stevens Point in front 72-71.  Whitewater missed a three the next time it had the ball, but Point had a shot blocked and then turned the ball over on an offensive foul with0:49 left when it had the ball.  Barber blocked Whitewater's next shot attempt with 0:35 on the clock.  The Warhawks fouled Althoff again and, as she did at the end of regulation, she hit both attempts for a 74-71 Point lead.  Whitewater had a turnover on its next possession, but strong defense on the inbounds caused a five second infraction by UW-SP to give UW-W one more chance, but a three pointer with six seconds left was off the mark.  Althoff, appropriately, closed the scoring with two more free throws for the final margin.

Palmer, with 13 points and 12 rebounds, totaled a double double to lead Whitewater.  Merg added 13 points and Reeves 10, with Kumerow just missing Whitewater's first twin double of the season, with 11 rebounds and nine points.  Barber finished with 34 points, more than any UW-Whitewater opponent has scored since at least 2008.  Tyler added 18 and a team high nine rebounds for UW-SP, with Alyssa Olp dished out a game high seven assists.
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