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Women’s basketball ready for playoffs

February 15, 2007

After a somewhat disappointing regular season, the UW-River Falls Falcons women’s basketball team will be looking to make a statement this post season.

“Our record doesn’t show how good we are,” senior captain Mel Preiner said.

The Falcons finished the regular season 15-10 overall, 9-7 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) after beating UW-La Crosse 67-54 in overtime Wednesday at Karges Center.

“It’s huge,” Preiner said. “You want to go into the playoffs on a high note.”

The Falcons will play Stevens Point in the first round of the playoffs. Their first round opponent is not as important as getting the team back on track.

“Going into the conference tournament with some confidence is more important than who we play in the first round,” head coach Cindy Hovet said.

Preiner and co-captain Traci Reimann seconded their coach’s sentiments.

“I really don’t think [who we play] will effect us,” Preiner said. “We just have to take care of ourselves.”

The Falcons have been a streaky team during the regular season.

“Our team is unpredictable,” Hovet said. “There’s good things and bad things about being unpredictable.”

The Falcons started the season with a five-game winning streak, and followed that with a three-game skid. The team then won three out of the next four games, and followed that up by losing four out of five. To emphasize the predictable unpredictability of the team, the Falcons rattled off another five-game winning streak, including an impressive 11-point victory over conference leading UW-Stout at the Karges Center.

That win highlights the importance of the Falcons getting a home game in the playoffs.

“We’re a good basketball team in our gym,” Hovet said. “If you look at the record across the league, your home court, I think, makes a six-point difference.”

The Falcons’ hopes for a home game rest on the shoulders of UW-Superior. If the 8-16 Yellowjackets can beat the 17-6 Pointers on Saturday in Superior the Falcons would host Stevens point on Monday.

Regardless of the site of the game the Falcons have fared well against the Pointers this season, handing them two of their six losses this season. On Dec. 2 the River Falls defeated Stevens Point 67-60 at Karges, and on Jan. 20 they defeated them 68-44 on the road.

One of Hovet’s concerns is her team’s ability to put their emotions in check.

“[The team’s play is] so inconsistent,” Hovet said immediately after a loss to UW-Whitewater Feb. 10. “You have to be able to play every day.”

Despite the team’s up-and-down play when the women are on top of their game, they are one of the best teams in the WIAC defensively, leading the conference in scoring defense at allowing 52.6 points per game.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to want to play us in the conference tournament,” Hovet said.

The two most important players for the Falcons are senior captain’s Reimann and Preiner.

“I think ultimately at crunch time your upperclassmen are the ones that will step up for you,” Hovet said.

Reimann’s and Preiner’s skills are complementary. With Reimann dominating the post, leading the Falcons in scoring at 12.6 points per game and the WIAC in rebounding with 9.5 rebounds per game, and Preiner running the offense and keeping defenses honest on the outside, shooting 39 percent beyond the arc. Each player has won a WIAC player of the week honor this season, Preiner for the week of Jan. 29 and Reimann for the week of Jan. 8.

“They’re just the heart and soul of this basketball team,” Hovet said of Reimann and Preiner. “We need our complementary kids to step up right now because we know Traci and Mel are gonna be there.”

Reimann and Preiner said they are very confident they can get at least one win in the WIAC playoffs, a feat that has eluded them in their three previous trips. They also said they think that with the team’s ability to get hot in a hurry they can do a lot of damage this postseason.

“I definitely think we can win the whole thing,” Preiner said. “It’s just a matter of staying strong.”

Reimann said she has extra motivation this post season after missing last year’s playoffs with an injury.

“I definitely don’t want to end the year too soon,” Reimann said. “I want to end the year with a W.”

The two senior captains said they haven’t thought about the possibility of playing the last college basketball games of their career.

“It’s win or go home,” Preiner said. “And we don’t want to go home yet.”

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