The Ripon College Red Hawk women’s basketball team struggled shooting from the field in a pair of losses at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Tournament last weekend.
It shot just 27% (15 of 56) in a 51-39 loss to former non-conference foe St. Norbert in a 51-39 loss last week Friday and 30% (14 of 47) in a 48-46 defeat to Alma College last week Saturday.
The 39 points was the Red Hawks’ lowest total since scoring 32 points in a 64-32 loss to nationally-ranked UW-Oshkosh in November 2018.
“Our field-goal percentages are horrendous and it’s the most important stat of the game,” Ripon head coach Lauren Busalacchi said, noting it has been an area that has plagued the team the past week.
After showing some improvement a week earlier at the UW-Eau Claire Tip Off Tournament, the Red Hawks also took a step backward in the turnover department last weekend as they committed 21 turnovers against St. Norbert and 23 miscues against Alma College.
The turnovers resulted in 18 points for St. Norbert and 15 points for Alma College.
“Unfortunately, this weekend we had quite a few travels,” Busalacchi said. “Even our game against Alma, six of the last eight possessions on offense were turnovers for us, so our composure wasn’t great.”
Another area in which Ripon struggled during the tournament was points in the paint. It was out-scored 26-12 around the basket by St. Norbert and 34-22 against Alma College.
“We’re not finishing well, but we’re not being super physical down there yet, either,” Busalacchi said, adding the Tigers don’t have the same presence as it used to with Maggie Oimoen and Megan Dille. “Part of that is sometimes we’re a little too crowded … but we’re missing a lot of good shots as well.”
Ripon also struggled to begin the second half in both games, allowing the opponents to take control of the games. Busalacchi credited the difficulties in part to the Red Hawks’ poor shooting and the turnovers.
Against St. Norbert, the Red Hawks were out-scored 10-0 to start the final 20 minutes. This came after they were tied with the Green Knights entering halftime at 18-all. Meanwhile, Alma College used a 9-2 run to begin the second half to take an 11-point lead with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Ripon did fight back from the 11-point deficit to Alma to get within three points at the end of the third quarter and then took the lead with back-to-back baskets by Kiana Fall in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Abby Hartman extended that lead to four points with a layup with five minutes left, before the Red Hawks struggled to take care of the ball and Alma scored the final six points to win the game.
Skyylar Brescia led Ripon in scoring in the game against Alma with 13 points, while Hartmann, Bella Opelt and Bonnie Jensen added seven points each. Jensen pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Alison Leslie paced the Red Hawks in scoring against St. Norbert with 13 points, while Brescia added eight points. No other Ripon player scored more than four points in the loss to the Green Knights.
While there were plenty of areas for improvement for Ripon in the two games, Busalacchi noted the defense made some strides from where it was in the first three games of the season. It held St. Norbert to 51 points on 38% (18 of 48) from the field and Alma to 46 points on 39% (20 of 52) from the field.
“We made some big jumps there, but we’ve just got to score it way more,” Busalacchi said about the defensive end. “Unfortunately, the defense doesn’t go a long way when we’re not playing well offensively.”
Ripon falls to UW-Platteville
On a night in which Ripon played its 1,000th game in program history and celebrated its past, it was UW-Platteville that came out on top last week Wednesday as the Pioneers won 65-58 to spoil the Red Hawks celebration.
Ripon started off the game strong as it jumped out to an 18-9 lead, but the Pioneers scored the final five points of the quarter and tied the game at 21 early in the second quarter. The Red Hawks responded with an 8-2 run to take a six-point lead, only to see Platteville get within 34-32 entering halftime.
The Pioneers then took the lead for good with a 3-pointer a little less than three minutes into the third quarter and led by as many as nine points midway through the fourth quarter. Ripon was within four points early in the fourth quarter and made it a two-possession game (six points) a couple times late.
“We’re just not taking full advantage of winnable games and you never get those games back,” Busalacchi said. “They’re opportunities for our team just non-conference-wise that we’ve let slip by.”
One player the Red Hawks had no answer for in the game, especially in the second half, was Maiah Domask. The Waupun native led all scorers with 22 points and added a game-high 17 rebounds. Fourteen of those points and nine rebounds came in the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Ripon also struggled finishing around the basket as it missed a number of close-range shots, which played a role in the Red Hawks shooting 36% (21 of 58) from the field. It especially had troubles shooting in the third quarter as it made just 1 of 10 shots during that 10-minute period.
Platteville finished shooting 47% (23 of 49) from the field, which included 5 of 10 from long range.
Leslie was a bright spot for Ripon as she led the way in scoring with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, which included 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Fall added 13 points for Ripon in the losing effort.
The Red Hawks will try to get back on the winning track Tuesday night, when they traveled to UW-La Crosse to take on the Eagles at 7 p.m.
They also will hit the road Saturday to face the Carroll Pioneers. Tip off for that game is set for 2 p.m.