The Wisconsin women’s basketball team may have caught some of the impending cold weather forecast a day early, as it scored a season-low 44 points and fell to Michigan 60-44 at the Kohl Center Sunday.
Wisconsin (9-10, 2-5 Big Ten) was just 17-of-51 (33.3 percent) from the floor and 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) from beyond the arc for the game and had just two players score in double-figures.
“We’re obviously disappointed in our play today,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “We didn’t have quite the offensive punch that we needed. We did play some pretty good defense. We got a lot of jump balls and some blocks and some things of that nature, but when we tried to press they got by us. Overall I thought the kids played hard, it just wasn’t enough.”
Michigan (14-6, 5-2) opened things up in the first half going on an 11-0 run just three minutes into the game to take a 15-6 lead. Wisconsin responded with a run of its own to pull within two at 13-15, but went into the locker room at halftime down 27-22. Johnson and Bauman led the team with seven points each.
The Badgers came out of the break strong, scoring the first nine points of the second half.
They would take the lead for just the second time of the game at the 17:13 mark following a Bauman three-pointer that thrilled the season-high crowd of 7,406, making it 31-29 UW.
The two teams would trade baskets until Michigan guard Siera Thompson knocked home a three-pointer that gave Michigan a 36-35 lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
Thompson led the Wolverines with 13 points (5-9 FG, 3-3 3Pt), adding on three assists and two rebounds as well.
Despite the resiliency of the Badgers’ attack, Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico was happy with how her team responded to the runs by Wisconsin and its ability to fight through foul trouble in the frontcourt.
“I was happy with the way that we were able to grind it out down the stretch when Wisconsin went up in the second half,” Arico said. “I thought Wisconsin really did a good job and made some great runs. It was nice to see our team be able to respond to their runs. I thought [Michala] Johnson did a great job for them tonight. She really gave us a tough time and got our bigs in foul trouble.”
Both starting forwards for the Wolverines, Cyesha Goree and Val Driscoll, fouled out of the game. Driscoll exited with 5:02 left and Goree followed a few minutes later at the 2:42 mark, but it was too late for the Badgers to send it down low to Johnson as the Wolverines employed a full-court press that took too much time off the clock.
“I think we found what worked well was when we got the ball into [Michala Johnson],” Bauman said. “They were [double teaming] her right away so it was good for her to kick it right out to us for threes. Then it obviously forced the defense to come out so we could get it back into [Johnson] so she could post-up.”
Despite the openness that the Badgers found around the perimeter, they could only manage five three-pointers against the Wolverine defense that ranks second in the Big Ten in three-point percentage defense. They allow teams to shoot just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Michigan also held the Badger duo of Morgan Paige and Taylor Wurtz to five combined points on just 1-for-13 shooting. The senior guards came into Sunday’s game averaging 13.1 and 12.8 points per game respectively.
With only two players scoring in double-figures, the Badgers are now 0-7 when they fail to have a third player score 10 or more points. This includes their last two games against Minnesota and Northwestern and is forcing Kelsey to look for a consistent third scorer.
“We’re missing a lot of little shots around the basket,” Kelsey said. “People just have to get in the gym and shoot more — and not just threes. You’ve got to have a mid-range game, you’ve got to have a finish-at-the-basket game. You can’t just be one dimensional. You’ve got to be a complete player. Complete players, whatever you take away from them, they’ve got something else for you.”
The loss drops Wisconsin into a tie for last place in the Big Ten at 2-5 and below .500 overall for the first time this season. The Badgers return to action Thursday at Michigan State before returning home next Sunday to take on Ohio State.