Entering Sunday’s game against Michigan State, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team had not earned a “statement” victory during the Big Ten season.
Despite beating then-No. 6 Baylor and in-state rival Marquette, the Badgers still lacked in the category of statement wins as they struggled in conference play.
After beating the Spartans, Wisconsin finally got the win it needed.
“(We) knocked off the frontrunner in the conference,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said. “To finish the game the way we did … We’re very proud of our kids for their resilience defensively (and we) got some things going offensively.”
With the 54-51 win over Michigan State, Wisconsin improved to 6-11 in conference play to stay ahead of Penn State in seventh place.
With such a significant win, the team’s confidence continues to build. The Badgers have played a number of close games this season, especially against the top teams in the conference, but they often have come up short in the final moments.
To earn a victory over the Spartans — who dropped into a tie for second place with the loss — shows the team what they already believed: they can be competitive with any team.
“We’ve proven it the entire season,” Stone said. “Going on the road right now, we’ve just got to keep that momentum going … and carry over the confidence that (we) can play with the elite in the league.”
Davis shines in final moments of victory
As time wound down in the Badgers’ victory Sunday, freshman guard Jade Davis found herself at the free-throw line with a pair of shots and Wisconsin leading 51-50.
Prior to the game, Davis had not shot a free throw in a game since hitting 2-of-2 in the Badgers’ trip to Penn State on Jan. 22. Unfazed, Davis calmly hit both shots, improving her season total to 14-of-15 from the charity stripe.
The free throws gave UW a three-point lead, which it held for the win after surviving three attempts from beyond the arc by Michigan State in the last 24 seconds of the game.
For Wisconsin, Davis is essential to the team in the fact that she provides depth off the bench and added size when she is on the floor.
“We like to pride ourselves in that we have some depth,” Stone said. “Jade gives us some size in the guard spot defensively (and she) can rebound for us.”
Davis had a career-high 11 points Sunday while tying a personal-best with two 3-pointers in front of a season-high 14,657 fans at the Kohl Center.
For the rest of the Badgers, the play of Davis added to the excitement of winning in front of a large crowd as they rallied around the 5-foot-9-inch freshman.
“The kids were very excited; they were really happy for Jade,” Stone said. “It’s a neat locker room when you see that people are happy for the success of others, and that demonstrates what our team is all about. We’re not about any one person.”
Stone sees season as success
With just one game remaining on the regular season schedule for Wisconsin, Stone looked back at the season Monday, reflecting on her team’s accomplishments.
Though the team has gone 6-10 in Big Ten play after winning ten consecutive non-conference games, Stone believes the season has been a good one for her young squad.
Stone seemed especially pleased with the way her team has handled the dismissal of former teammate Mariah Dunham over the last three weeks.
“It’s been a very, very, very successful season,” Stone said. “From our non-conference to our conference play, we’re in every game … and this team has not wavered, they have kept their thoughts and their confidence and their belief in their locker room. It’s been very, very rewarding in many ways because this team stuck together through a lot of stuff.”