By John Leerar
OSHKOSH, Wisc. - The Calvin College Women's Basketball team faced off against the Titans of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Knights, coming into the matchup with a record of 22-5, received an at-large berth in the tournament, while the Titans also received an at-large bid at 24-3. The game was a close one, but the Titans ended up edging the Knights, 63-55.
The game started on a tough note for Calvin, with senior Anna Timmer (Caledonia/South Christian) picking up two fouls within the first minute, which put her on the bench for the remainder of the quarter. However, the Knights stayed with Oshkosh through the quarter in a back-and-forth battle, ending the quarter tied 17-17.
The second quarter did not start out well for the Knights. Three straight layups by the Titans put them up six with seven minutes to go in the half. Calvin would storm back, ending with junior Ali Spayde (Lewis Center, OH/Worthington Christian) nailing a 10-foot jumper to put Calvin up one with 3:15 left in the half. Back-to-back triples from Oshkosh guards would take back the lead, and Calvin entered the locker room at half trailing 31-26.
The Titans started the second half strong, battling to take a 9 point lead. The Knights, like in the previous quarter, would storm back in the middle of the quarter, with a three by freshman Nicole Meyer (Macomb/Eisenhower) pulling Calvin back within two. After that, however, it was all Oshkosh for the remainder of the quarter. The Titans (25-3) used a triple at the end of the quarter to regain their nine-point lead.
In the final quarter, Calvin picked up some much-needed points with junior Bre Luurtsema (Holland/Holland Christian) knocking down a pair of free throws. Back and forth play continued from that point on, with Oshkosh maintaining a lead that kept the Knights out of reach.
"Foul trouble certainly got us in this game," said Calvin women's basketball coach Chuck Winkleman. "It really disrupted our rhythm offensively. We also had to tinker with our lineup and play taller players. "This team has represented Calvin very well. They had a gritty, never-quit attitude up until the very end. This was a team we played that was ranked in the top 15 all year, and we stayed with them and had plenty of chances to make it even closer. I'm incredibly grateful in my first year to be around this group with such great leadership throughout this change. This is just the beginning for us."
Luurtsema finished with a season-high 22 points along with nine rebounds while Spayde had 14 points and sophomore Rachel Warners (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian HS) 12 points.
The Knights end the season at 22-6. The contest also concludes the careers of seniors Lauren Goldthorpe (St. Ignace, Mich./LaSalle HS), Timmer and MacKenzie Shelton (Niles, Mich./Brandywine HS).
Women's Basketball Drops NCAA III Tournament Opener to Wisconsin-Oshkosh 63-55
By John Leerar