Oakland women’s basketball loses close one to Milwaukee, preps for seniors’ last game

Ally Racey

Milwaukee came to the O’rena with a purpose as Oakland women’s basketball fell, 98-95, in a close battle on Thursday.

The Golden Grizzlies scored their highest points of league play and second-highest of the season.

The Panthers won the last match-up against Oakland, 77-64, on Jan. 30, 2016, and one of the team’s strongest weapons, sophomore forward Steph Kostowicz, was ready for a race.

Kostowicz ranks fourth in rebounds (8.7 rpg), sixth in field goal percentage (51.3) and 12th in scoring (13.1 ppg) for the visiting team.

Kostowicz and Jenny Lindner each scored 32 points for Milwaukee as they tried to keep up with senior Elena Popkey.

Popkey scored a career-high 33 points for Oakland, including five assists, three rebounds and tallied a career-best 13-for-18 from the line.

“She’s playing like a senior,” coach Jeff Tungate said. “She’s only got a couple games left, so she played her heart out, played extremely hard and did a great, great job tonight.

“I’m really proud of her and what she did and what she accomplished tonight. She put our team on her shoulders,” he said.

Oakland fell behind double digits twice on Thursday night, but continued to fight back.

“It was good to see we had that fight and good to see that we didn’t give up and it was good to see us play all the way to the end and battle,” Tungate said. “(I) just wish we could have came away with a victory.”

 Also scoring for Oakland was freshman Taylor Jones with 18 points.

During the last game against Detroit, Jones recorded her first-career double-double with 24 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

Senior Olivia Nash also appeared on the board for the home team with 15 points and 13 rebounds to rack up her eighth double-double this season.

“I’m proud of our effort,” Tungate said. “We didn’t quit, we didn’t give up and we fought back and had our chances, but tip your hat to Milwaukee.

“There’s a reason they’re in second place in the league,” he said.

The team closes out the regular season against Green Bay on Saturday, March 5 on the Blacktop at the O’rena for Senior Day.

Popkey and Nash will be recognized for their hard work and dedication over the past four years.

“This Saturday is not about Green Bay, it’s not about league standings, this is about [Popkey] and [Nash] and making sure that they go out the right way and making sure they have a great experience on Saturday to remember their careers by,” Tungate said.