Defense has been a strength of the UW-La Crosse women’s basketball team since coach Karen Middleton took over last season. But even she couldn’t have expected what her team did on Saturday night in front of 120 people at Mitchell Hall.
UW-L stifled the high-scoring Bethany Lutheran offense until it was strictly reserves on the floor while running away with a 60-30 nonconference win.
“We’ve worked really hard, not just this week but in the weeks leading up to this, on our defense and rebounding,” Middleton said. “That’s got to be our staple.”
The Eagles (5-2) built their lead in the second quarter, winning those 10 minutes 15-3. Delaney Schoenenberger score nine of her game-high 22 points in the second quarter to lead UW-L to a 23-9 halftime lead. The Vikings didn’t score for a 10-minute, 59-second stretch in the first half.
The second half was a defensive clinic put on by the Eagles. Bethany Lutheran, an NAIA program, entered Saturday’s game averaging 84.4 points per game, but UW-L never allowed the Vikings to get clean looks. Bethany Lutheran (5-1) shot 9-for-57 (15.8 percent) from the field, including 1-for-15 from the 3-point line. La Crosse also forced 23 turnovers.
Offensively, UW-L penetrated the Vikings’ 2-3 zone with ease, and after breaking it down off the dribble, they found open shooters for easy midrange shots and 3-pointers.
Senior Elise DeNoyer had seven points and four rebounds, and Kylee Marks added 11 rebounds.
Bellevue 68, Viterbo 62
BELLEVUE, Neb. — Alyssa Nilssen’s layup with 4:57 left cut the Bellevue lead to one, but that was as close as the V-Hawks got. Viterbo score just two points in the final 2:40.
Madison Doerr led the Viterbo (3-8, 0-1) with 14 points and a pair of 3-pointers. Nilssen and Ambree Schlosser followed with 11 apiece. Nielssen added seven rebounds to lead the V-Hawks while going 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.
Central Lakes 66, Western 53
Emily Schaldach scored 15 points, and Kerrigan Lyga added 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers (0-6), who trailed 41-18 at the half.
UW-L 73, Northland 46
The Eagles continued their trend this season of a slow start and a strong finish, closing the game on a 23-5 run in front of 230 people at Mitchell Hall.
With two of the Eagles’ top scorers — juniors Ben Meinholz and Taulvish McCray — struggling to get going, junior Brendon Manning picked up the slack to lead the Eagles with 14 points. He also added three rebounds and four steals. Sophomore Jack Kortes scored 13 off the bench, while Milton Cummings added 10 points and five rebounds for UW-L (5-1).
After Northland (2-4) started the game making five of its first six 3-point attempts, the Eagles held the Lumberjacks to 1-for-9 from deep the rest of the way. UW-L forced 23 turnovers, 14 of which came in the first half. The Eagles outscored Northland 40-14 in the paint.
Central Lakes 68, Western 65
Shawn Gerron led Western with 22 points but his tying attempt at a 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer. Josh Brownlee chipped in 12 points for Western (2-4), which shot just 5-for-23 (21.7 percent) from the 3-point line.
Bellevue (RV) 69, Viterbo 54
BELLEVUE, Neb. — The V-Hawks (7-4, 0-1) struggled to find their stroke as they were 21-for-52 (40.4 percent) from the field including just 5-for-20 from 3-point range.
Bellevue (5-5, 1-0) outscored the V-Hawks 17-7 from the charity stripe as well.
Sparta graduate Cade Anderson recorded another double-double — his fifth of the season — with 13 points and 13 rebounds. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Central grad Ethan Haberman had 11 points.