by Tiffany Stubbs

The women’s basketball team is well into conference play for this season and is having success. After a solid non-conference record of 9-3, the women were feeling confident and excited to play against the teams in the UMAC conference.

Now fully in the middle of conference season, the team’s overall record is 12-4, with the only loss in the conference being to the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Superior just joined the conference for the first time this season, and as of January 25 have beaten every conference team they have played.

Junior Emily VanLith said, “Wisconsin- Superior is a very talented team. We knew this coming into the season because I remember playing against them my freshman year and them coming out on top pretty easily. I was excited for them to join the conference because I enjoy the added competition, but them joining has definitely made our season more difficult than it would have been otherwise.”

Coach Aaron Kahl said, “It is always great to add a school the caliber of Superior to your conference. The fact that they are coming off a WIAC championship in women’s basketball last season really helps raise the profile and level of play in the UMAC.”

So far, the Eagles have had close games in the conference mainly with the University of Minnesota-Morris and Superior. Other than those two games, they are beating their opponents by about 15 points.

I think overall we competed with Superior very well. Both teams have a lot of talent, so the game against them was fun. – Emily VanLith

VanLith said, “I think overall we competed with Superior very well. Both teams have a lot of talent, so the game against them was fun. I really believe we did not play to our full potential that game, partly because we came into the season with the number one ranking in the conference. I think we were scared to lose during the game and played that way. When we face them on their court, we will be more prepared since we learned a lot from playing them the first time.”

Kahl said, “They really hurt us with their physical play, especially on the boards. We did a decent job defending them, and I was pleased that we were able to hold them to a season low in points, but we did not get enough rebounds to give ourselves a chance. There are some areas we will begin improving on, starting this upcoming weekend.”

In the previous years, the women’s team has had success in different ways. Two seasons ago, the Eagles made their first appearance at the NCAA tournament in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and last season they attended the NCCAA tournament in Winona Lake, Indiana. Both of these tournaments were honors for the team to be invited to, and these tournament appearances have given the team confidence heading into the play-offs this season.

VanLith said, “We would love to head back to the NCAA tournament this year. This team has a lot of experience and we are very deep. Five of us got to go to the NCAA tournament two years ago which has helped us to know that we can play with any team that shows up at that tournament. I would love to be able to win a game at the NCAA tournament this year, but we have to stay focused and work hard to get there first.”

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