OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – “When you don’t get that moment of closure with a game in a locker room, it’s just kind of surreal,” Titans head coach Brad Fischer said. “It came upon the girls pretty quick.”
Just over a week ago, the UW-Oshkosh women’s basketball team was preparing for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament.
“You could just see the way the dominoes were falling on Wednesday night, that things were going to get harder and harder for us,” Fischer said.
And it did, but not just for the Titan women. The NBA suspended its season on March 11. The following day, the NCAA called off all their basketball tournaments.
“We just sat them down and said we’re sorry that I have to deliver this news, but our season is over,” Fischer said. “Immediate tears from our seniors, and I think it started to set in that we weren’t going to get to play together again.”
“Honestly after he said the season was done, I just started balling and I don’t really remember what else was said,” Titans senior Olivia Campbell said. “I was just too sad, but it almost just didn’t feel real.”
Notre Dame grad Olivia Campbell was one of the two seniors, the other being Emily Miller, who saw their seasons cut short.
“I really don’t know when it’s going to sink in because usually as senior, you kind of get that closure where you know it’s your last game, you know it’s your last practice,” Campbell said. “I was in a weird situation where I had my last practice and I had no idea. Most people end on a game and I ended on a practice.”
Consider this, the Titans were the last college team playing in both men’s and women’s sports in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Head coach Brad Fischer called this year’s squad (20-10) one of his gutsiest teams yet. Oshkosh started off the year 11-9, but ended up winning 9 of their last 10 to reach the Sweet 16. This was the third time the two seniors had made it this far in the NCAA Division 3 tournament.
“We were able to answer the bell for really the last month and a half once we hit that playoff mode,” Fischer said. “For them not to fight and claw their way to it, it was sad for the seniors and this group that fought so hard to keep things going, that they didn’t get one more chance to fight.”
“There’s been a lot of talent in Oshkosh’s basketball program and we are a talented team, but like Coach Fischer said, we may not have been the most talented team, but we went out every game and just gave it our all,” Campbell said. “We just knew that if we lost, we’d be done. We played for just the reputation of Oshkosh basketball.”
While the Titans didn’t get any closure to their 2019-20 season on the court, Fischer is hoping to get a banquet together so they can officially wrap up this unforgettable year.
“I think seeing each other and just talking about this season will provide some closure,” Campbell said. “Right now it’s just too soon, but I think a banquet would be what we need.”
“It’s Sweet 16 dot, dot, dot,” Fischer said. “There was still more to be determined and we really felt like we had some more wins in us, so I think we’re always remembered as no one could knock us out.
“It took a national pandemic to end our season, so if you would’ve told me in January that we would end like this, with where things were at and how we were playing, I think we would’ve taken that situation. We’re trying to look back at it as an incredible positive and a great way for those girls to go out.”