Wednesday night wasn’t the prettiest for either Wisconsin (3-5) or Boston College (2-3). As both teams combined for a grisly 40 turnovers, the Badgers came out on top, besting the Eagles 58-50 in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
For Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey, a win is a win.
“We won; that’s all I care,” Kelsey laughed. “We had to ad lib a little bit when they went to [four guards in the game]. It came through for us; Lacia [Gorman] came through, Taylor [Wurtz] did what she usually does for us and our bigs finally started scoring on the blocks, so we’re happy.”
Wurtz continued her emergence as a dominant scorer for the Badgers in the early part of the season as the junior led all players with 19 points along with a team high 6 rebounds.
“She’s a tough player,” Boston College head coach Sylvia Crawley said. “She plays hard for 40 minutes. If you take a break, she will expose you. I think she’s a really good player in terms of her work ethic. There are very few players that just work hard anymore, and I think that’s what she’s got going for her. That’s something that will keep her consistent throughout the year.”
That work ethic helped Wurtz push through a not-so-superb shooting performance as the Badger guard shot six of fifteen from the field. However, Wurtz was bolstered by a terrific scoring effort from Gorman, as the freshman scored nine points off the bench on three of five shooting from beyond the arc.
“Lacia’s better than she knows,” Kelsey said. “She can handle the ball. They can’t really press her if she’s not timid. This game was a good confidence builder for Lacia and the coaches. Now we know we can put her in and she can build on this and really be that next scorer we need. When she slows down and she gets a good look, she can knock it down. I told her she grew up today; she’s eating solid foods now. She’s not a baby anymore.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or not,” Gorman said. “When you get in the game, you have to be ready, and that’s what coach preaches to us all the time. It’s just being in the game and doing what you can do for the team.”
Solid guard play off the bench carried the Badgers down the stretch as Gorman and junior Tiera Stephen gave the Badgers life against the press, attacking traps and making the right passes to stop any momentum the Eagles had when a solid Boston College run in the first half put the Badgers behind. Neither guard committed a turnover in a combined 33 minutes of play, as the two combined for three assists as well.
“I’m just really proud of my teammates stepping up,” Wurtz said. “I think that just got the rhythm going. When somebody comes off the bench and hits shots, it gives you confidence to make your shots, and obviously I had a lot of open looks because the posts finished strong tonight.”
Did they ever. The two starting forwards for Wisconsin enjoyed a solid night of scoring from the blocks, as seniors Anya Covington and Ashley Thomas scored 13 and 10 points respectively, both totals well above their season averages.
“We finished tonight, and that’s always great for the team,” Covington said. “We were just more aggressive tonight and focused on finishing, and that’s what we did.”
The first half yielded some highs and lows for both teams. First the Badgers kicked off the game on a 9-2 run as Covington and Wurtz both combined to score all nine Badger points. But Boston College had an answer, as the Eagles turned on a full court press to force five Badger turnovers en route to a 13-4 run.
Shayra Brown capped off the Eagles run on a three pointer. But the Badgers took the lead for good after that, as the team used a 10-1 run to distance themselves from the Eagles thanks to a Wurtz three-pointer and a few strong buckets in the post by Covington and Thomas.
Wisconsin shot 43 percent from the field in the game. While both teams committed 20 turnovers each, Wisconsin shot the ball four more times than Boston College. Wisconsin also made seven threes, while Boston College only sank three out of their fifteen attempts.
“Wisconsin is a very good team,” Crawley said. “You can tell the direction that this program is headed in.”