Thursday’s game against Boston College was the tale of two halves for the Wisconsin women’s basketball team. Losing 27-26 at halftime, the Badgers (5-2) went on to score 48 second half points and topped Boston College (3-5), 74-59 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at the Kohl Center.
After the first 20 minutes of action, the Badgers were down at halftime for the first time all year at home. UW was just 12-of-32 (37.5 percent) from the floor and shot just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc as a Boston College zone forced them outside the paint. Meanwhile, the Eagles shot 50 percent and were led by Katie Zenevitch who had 11 first half points. Of the Badgers’ 26 halftime points, redshirt junior Michala Johnson and fifth-year senior Taylor Wurtz accounted for all but two of those points scoring 14 and 10 points respectively.
Boston College pushed their lead to 40-30 going on a 13-4 run to start the second half. The Badgers found themselves facing their largest deficit of the game and needed a spark to get them back in the game. They got that spark from sophomore guard Tessa Cichy who scored all of her 13 points in the second half on 4-of-5 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 mark from three-point range.
“Whenever I come into the game, I’m looking to provide energy,” Cichy said. “I felt like at that point [in the game] we did not have a lot of energy … so that was what I was looking to do.”
With 12:03 left to play in the game and the Badgers on a run, Cichy knocked in her first three-point shot of the night to decrease the Eagle lead to just two at 44-42. Just two minutes later Cichy would hit another three to make it 49-45, Boston College, and it was all Wisconsin from there. Cichy hit her final three point basket with 5:53 to go to regain the lead for UW and they wouldn’t give up the lead the rest of the way. The Badgers closed the game on a 29-10 run.
“[Cichy] brought a lot of fight and energy,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “[Cichy] is just a very smart player. She understands what to look for and she uses her brain more so than her physical part of her game. You need people to step up; that’s what a team is. It’s everybody giving maximum effort all the time and you never know when it’s going to be your night and [Cichy] had a great night and we needed it. Without her, we probably don’t win this game.”
In the rare moments when Cichy wasn’t scoring in the second half, it was senior Morgan Paige contributing to the Badgers’ run. Like Cichy, Paige was scoreless in the first half but had all of her 12 points in the second half as well. With 4:59 left in the game, Paige rattled off ten straight points to push Wisconsin’s lead to 65-53; its largest lead of the game.
Wurtz and Johnson were slowed down a bit in the second half but both still managed to score more than 20 points. Wurtz finished with 22 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Johnson had totals of 21 points and seven rebounds. Johnson scored the first six points of the game for the Badgers which drew extra attention from the Eagle defense. That has been a familiar pattern all season for UW and once again, it only made things easier for the rest of the team.
“Coach always says, ‘[Johnson’s] hungry. Keep feeding her’,” Wurtz said. “If they play [Johnson] one-on-one, she can score all the time. That opens up everything else. It opens up looks for me, for Morgan [Paige], and Jackie [Gulczynski], and then obviously Tessa [Cichy] today. So it was a team effort and everybody just contributed.”
It was a big win for Wisconsin who is in the midst of a tough stretch of games. Including tonight’s game, three of the last four opponents for Wisconsin have been from power-six conferences. Following Thursday’s game, the Badgers will travel to Marquette on Saturday, play host to No. 24 Gonzaga on Tuesday and then head west to play Washington next Friday.
“We’re very excited about this win,” Kelsey said. “We have a tough stretch here coming up, so we really needed this first one to really get us going. Just to show that fight again but we came out on the good side of the fight tonight. We had a game plan and it worked for us.”