Power to rewrite their script: UW-Stout women’s basketball recovers from midseason losses to reach NCAA tournament

Blue Devils to play WashU in first round on March 1, first appearance since 2007
Abbey Goers | February 28, 2024

UW-Stout women’s basketball team is all about competitiveness and grit. 

After a midseason, six-loss struggle, the Blue Devils pivoted and won their next nine games, including a 77-65 victory over UW-Oshkosh in the WIAC championship, securing their automatic bid in the 2024 NCAA DIII Women's Basketball Championship.

“We had a decision to make. We could either roll over and let that be the end of our story, or we could continue to fight like crazy and rewrite our script,” said Head Coach Hannah Iverson

“Our community has been a huge part of this journey, and we’re excited to share this with them.”

Coach Iverson and Team with Trophy
UW-Stout women's basketball are 2024 WIAC champs / UW-Stout Athletics

The team gathered on Monday for a selection show with coaches, university staff and dedicated student fans – excited and nervous to learn their NCAA first round matchup.

UW-Stout will play Washington University, of St. Louis, at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at Van Male Fieldhouse, at Carroll University, in Waukesha. 

Watch the game live, view live stats and bracket updates. Listen at WMEQ AM 880.

This is the first time UW-Stout has played in the tournament since 2007, and its 10th appearance overall. Last year, UW-Stout won the WIAC regular season championship.

The winner Friday will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, against the winner of the Carroll University, Puget Sound game.

During the selection, Dave McHugh, of D3Hoops.com, called the 64 competing teams “a deeper field than we’ve had in a long time.”

Sectional rounds will be played March 8-9 at four campus sites across the U.S. Semifinals and the championship game will be played March 14-16, at Capital Center Performance Arena, in Columbus, Ohio.

The power to rewrite their script

UW-Stout started the season winning 11 out of the first 12 games, but the Blue Devils standings took a turn as they lost six of the next seven.

Guided by Iverson, they were able to turn their season around by focusing on one game at a time. They enter the NCAA tournament with a 21-7 record.

Lauren Arenz, Sam Schaeffer, Amanda Giesen and Anna Mutch, UW-Stout Women's Basketball
Graduating senior Lauren Arenz, Sam Schaeffer, Amanda Giesen and Anna Mutch celebrate after the game / UW-Stout Athletics

“It was important for us to get back to who we are. We focused on doing this in small efforts every single day. We worked to get back to our identity and to gain back the belief in what this team can accomplish when we play together. These players wear their hearts on their sleeves.”

Athletics Director Duey Naatz is “proud of their effort, the way they compete and how they represent the university and our community.”

Raegan Sorensen, UW-Stout Women's Basketball
Raegan Sorensen is now the seventh all-time point leader in team history, with 1,221 points / UW-Stout Athletics

Iverson knows that within the Blue Devil’s fan base are many young fans. “When you play at this level – the platform of a college athlete – you have to carry yourself differently. We have a responsibility to represent Stout and our community.

“These players can look back and remember themselves as kids and who they looked up to. Now they can be idols for young Blue Devils,” she said. “The only boundary of your success is you.”

Lauren Arenz, an early childhood education student from Onalaska, is this year’s sole graduating senior. She’s planning on earning her master’s in speech and language pathology.

“Lauren is the definition of a Stout kid,” said Anna Mutch, a psychology senior from Apple Valley, Minn. “She’s willing to be whatever we need, whenever we need her.”

“She’s dedicated and a hard worker. Lauren is always there for everyone,” added Raegan Sorensen, an environmental science junior from Centuria and the team’s leading scorer.

On pursuing their goals, both on and off the court, Arenz said, “We just keep up the positive energy and good vibes. We have each other’s backs. We love each other.”

Anna Mutch, UW-Stout Women's Basketball
Anna Mutch has 986 career points, just 14 points away from the 1,000 mark / UW-Stout Athletics

“Your goals as an athlete, a student and in life are intertwined. Being a college athlete is an opportunity for character development. You have to stay disciplined to achieve your goals. We push forward and believe in each other,” Mutch added.

WIAC championship game and individual highlights

Through an anonymous donation, UW-Stout fans – students, staff and community members – filled a bus headed to Kolf Center, in Oshkosh, last Friday night for the WIAC championship. Some wore their lucky jeans. Others carried lucky pennies in their pockets.

The bus ride was quiet while student fans studied and slept, but once the Blue Devils stepped foot on the court, the house erupted.

With blue rally towels blazing, UW-Stout won the opening tip-off and led 24-11 at the end of the first quarter. They built a 20-point lead in the second quarter and led 43-32 at halftime. Oshkosh chipped away in the third and fourth, but it never led in the game.

UW-Stout Women's Basketball WIAC champs with fans
Blue Devils student fans joined the team on the court to celebrate / UW-Stout

The Blue Devils shot .500 from the field, outrebounded Oshkosh 34-26 and had 17 assists on 25 field goals. The team was 9 of 18 from three and 18 of 22 from the free throw line.

  • Sorensen led all scorers with 21 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to secure her 14th double-double of the season. 
  • Amanda Giesen, a business administration senior from New Prague, Minn., scored 16 points, including 9 of 9 on free throws.
  • Lexi Wagner, a master’s student from Galesville, scored 15, with a three-pointer just 13 seconds into the game.
  • Mutch scored 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
  • Sam Schaeffer, a professional communications and emerging media senior from DeForest, had seven points, six assists and three blocks. 
  • Sydney Brennan, a cybersecurity senior from Eau Claire, hit two three-pointers.
  • Rosella Wille, a supply chain management and business administration sophomore from Cannon Falls, Minn., had two points and an assist.

Sorensen is now the seventh all-time point leader in team history, with 1,221 points, just 10 away from sixth. Mutch, with 986 points, and Giesen, with 959, are nearing the 1,000 mark.

Sorensen and Giesen were selected to the 2023 All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Team by the league coaches. Sorensen was also selected to the All-Defensive team. Mutch and Wagner were named to Honorable Mention All-WIAC, and Arenz was named to the WIAC All-Sportsmanship Team.

Five other Wisconsin schools are bracketed for the NCAA first round: UW-Oshkosh (22-5), UW-Whitewater (22-4), Carroll (23-4), Ripon (19-8) and Wisconsin Lutheran (23-4).

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