Egner records 500th win, 14th-ranked UWSP women set for key stretch
Head coach Shirley Egner, who recorded her 500th career
victory earlier this month, and the 14th-ranked University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point (UWSP) women’s basketball team will face a tough stretch as it looks to
stay atop the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) standings.
With a three-way tie at the top of the conference, the
Pointers (15-3, 6-1) will host 11th-ranked UW-Oshkosh (15-3, 6-1) at Berg
Gymnasium at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, before they travel for road games at
17th-ranked UW-Whitewater (15-3, 4-3) Wednesday, Feb. 3, and at 19th-ranked
UW-River Falls (15-3, 6-1) Saturday, Feb. 6.
“We’re just going to keep plugging away,” said Egner. “We’re
just going to try and fight and scrape and scratch and claw, and we’ve got to
give our best effort.
“When you lose a major contributor offensively and
defensively to an injury, which we did (junior guard Autumn Hennes), our kids
have shown a lot of perseverance and a lot of determination to continue to have
success without her on the floor,” she said. “It hasn’t been pretty, but I
couldn’t be more proud of them with their effort and competitive spirit.”
After going 9-2 in nonconference play to start the season,
the Pointers opened the WIAC schedule with a 59-52 win at home over UW-Eau
Claire (8-10, 3-4) Jan. 6 and then beat Whitewater 63-56 at home Jan. 9, when
UWSP’s leading scorer Hennes (11.2 points per game) was lost for the season due
to an injury she suffered in the final 20 seconds of the game.
The Pointers looked to regroup on the road Jan. 13 against a
UW-Platteville (4-14, 1-6) team that is guided by head coach Megan (Hodgson)
Wilson, who played for Egner at UWSP and later served as an assistant coach for
the Pointers before she took over at Platteville.
UWSP went into halftime with a 32-21 lead at Platteville and
went on to win 67-48, as Egner became the 17th women’s basketball coach in NCAA
Division III history to record her 500th career victory.
“I’m fortunate to coach great kids, great student athletes
and great young women who buy into the system, and they’re prideful of playing
for UW-Stevens Point women’s basketball,” said Egner. “It’s quite an honor, but
it’s not about me, it’s about the program.
“It’s about the young women who have contributed their
blood, sweat and tears for this program, it’s about my assistant coaches, it’s
about athletic trainers and it’s about our director of athletics, who’s
supported women’s basketball,” she said. “It’s a community thing; it’s not a
Shirley Egner thing. It’s a great accomplishment, but I didn’t do it by myself,
I didn’t score one stinking point.
“I just tried to find people that would fit into our program
and buy into our system,” she said. “And we’ve had some success with that.”
The victory also extended the Pointers’ winning streak to
nine games, which was snapped with a 60-46 loss at Oshkosh Jan. 16.
However, UWSP bounced back with a 63-52 win
at home over 19th-ranked UW-River Falls Jan. 20 and a 55-48 win at La Crosse
(6-12, 0-7) Saturday, Jan. 23, before the Pointers trailed 56-50 at UW-Stout
(8-10, 2-5) with 1:33 left in regulation Wednesday, Jan. 27, and came back to
win 69-61 in overtime to improve to 15-3 overall.
That left UWSP in a three-way tie atop the standings with
Oshkosh and River Falls heading into the second half of the WIAC schedule,
which starts this weekend when the Pointers host Oshkosh Saturday afternoon.
In the Jan. 16 loss at Oshkosh,
UWSP led 24-17 at halftime, before Oshkosh
used a 22-10 run in the third quarter to take a 39-34 lead, and outscored the
Pointers 43-22 in the second half of a 60-46 victory.
“We’ve had great competitive spirit, except for the second
20 minutes of our Oshkosh
game,” said Egner. “We held them to 17 in the first half, and we gave up 43 in
the second half.
“And it was just lack of concentration and a lack of
competitive spirit,” she said. “But having played four games since (Hennes) went
out, to only have it be two of the 16 quarters where we just really didn’t
compete, I think it speaks volumes about the character of this team.”
UWSP will be on the road at Whitewater Wednesday, Feb. 3,
and then is scheduled to play at River
Falls at Saturday, Feb. 6, to conclude
a stretch that could decide this season’s WIAC Regular Season Champion.
“It’s a dogfight, and it is every year in the WIAC,” said
Egner. “And we’ve been pounding home to our kids that Conference Championships
are won the road, and we have to be able to go on the road and get a couple of
As for Egner’s 500th win at UWSP, she said the moment was a
time for her to look back at some of the memories that she’s made during her 27
seasons as the Pointers’ head coach.
“You go back to the first day on campus, I remember I got
hired here in 1989, and classes had already begun,” said Egner. “And I’m trying
to move into this office and get ready for a season, and I didn’t know my team,
“You do reflect back on that, and all the big wins and all
the bad losses, and you think about everything,” she said. “And I’ve just been
fortunate to build relationships with young women and still have those relationships
with former players; that’s what it’s all about for me. I don’t want it to be
about me, it never has been about me, it’s been about the kids.
“When former players come back and they’re married and they
have two children and they’re running around Berg, that’s a great
accomplishment,” she said. “I feel like, ‘yeah, they got it.’
“They’re happy, they’re a wife, they’re a mother, they have
a career; they’re not just that basketball player,” she said. “And I know that
some of our teachings have carried over into their personal life, which has
helped them grow.
“And that’s probably what I’m most thankful for,” she said.