In a thriller in front of a frenzied crowd of 3,307 at the Kohl Center, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team put forth one of its best all-around effort of the season. However, the Badgers were unable to pull out a victory against No. 22 Nebraska in a 71-70 overtime thriller.
It was a tale of two halves offensively for both teams. The first half was a struggle for both teams. The Badgers (10-12 overall, 3-7 Big Ten) hit nine out of their 24 shots from the field for a 37.5 percent mark, while the Cornhuskers (16-5, 6-3) connected on just 10 of their first 31 for 32.3 percent.
Wisconsin headed to the locker room with a 26-21 lead, largely in part due to a 3-4 team performance from behind the arc. The three’s came from three different players: Nicole Bauman, who was back in the starting lineup after an illness, Taylor Wurtz and Jacki Gulczynski.
Meanwhile, Nebraska’s shooting woes were a direct result of its poor shooting from downtown. They shot an abysmal 1-10 from three-point land and the 21 points for the half was their lowest point total in any half this season.
Yet it was a tale of two halves for the Cornhuskers, who came out firing in the second half. They shot 50 percent from the field in the second half and knocked down 7-12 shots from three-ball territory.
Tear’a Laudermill had ice in her veins, drilling three threes in a span of 2 minutes, 35 seconds late in the second half. The junior guard added a three-pointer in overtime and had a team-high 21 points. The final three in that stretch, with 3:23 remaining in the game, gave Nebraska a 53-52 edge, its first lead since 14-13 at the mark in the first half.
The Cornhuskers finished the game 30-69 from the field (43.5 percent) and bounced back from long range posting a 41.7 percentage from three-point territory (10-24). All-American senior Jordan Hooper added Nebraska’s other overtime three and had five points in the extra time.
Wisconsin continued to shoot the ball efficiently from downtown in the second half, knocking down four out of their five attempts. They did not attempt a three in the overtime period, leaving them at an impressive 77.8 percent (7-9) mark for the game.
That was much more efficient than the 5-24 three-point total they put up against Michigan just a week and a half ago, leading to head coach Bobbie Kelsey’s complaints about the number of threes attempted. But with the way the Badgers were shooting Wednesday night, it was somewhat confusing as to why they did not take more outside shots.
Part of that reason was because their effective outside shooting opened up the middle for junior forward Michala Johnson. Johnson was extremely quiet in the first half, with only two points through the first 20 minutes and shooting 0-6 from the field. Her only points came at the free-throw line where she was 2-4.
“In the first half I wasn’t finishing, I wasn’t focusing on the basket,” Johnson said. “I know I can finish around the basket … I knew I had to do what I do best, which is finish because in the beginning I wasn’t doing that.”
“We had more opportunities to send more [double teams] with some of the lineups they had in the first half,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said. “They went with their shooting lineup in the second half and it’s harder to double. In addition, we were in foul trouble the whole game with our post.”
The second half and overtime period turned into the Michala Johnson showcase. She had 14 points in the second half, and paced the Badgers to a 60-60 tie at the end of regulation. She was able to display a display of strength and control on the block and finish at the rim.
“[Johnson] knows she can go one-on-one,” Kelsey said. “She was being very tentative in the first half … you have to cram the ball down people’s throats, you can’t sit back their and be passive. She knows that, and when she does it, look what happens, you see the stat sheet.”
Johnson continued to go to work in the five minute overtime period, adding eight points and finishing with a game-high 24 points (11-20 from the field).
“I’m just disappointed for them,” Kelsey said. “They played their tails off tonight.”