Despite an 0-3 start, the University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s basketball team notched their first two wins of the season over Thanksgiving week, topping Butler University 60-55 and Tennessee State University 80-70.
The win over Butler marked the first victory under new head coach Jonathan Tsipis while the rebound victory over Tennessee State helped the Badgers go 1-1 at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebel Round-Up tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.
With a 15 point win against Butler (2-2) Nov. 20, UW-Madison was able to get the monkey off its back of starting the first few weeks without a win. The dominant win was the first time the Badgers held an opposing team to under 60 points and bodes well for a young team entering the bulk of their schedule.
Women’s basketball: Tsipis looks to lead Badgers to first win of the season WednesdayThe University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team takes on the University of Dayton Wednesday evening at the Kohl Center in Read…
Wisconsin’s previous matchup against Dayton featured a lopsided second half performance that saw them get blown out 58-35 after heading into the break with a four-point lead. The Badgers flipped the script against Butler, outscoring the Bulldogs 23-16 in the fourth quarter after three periods of tightly contested play.
Cutting turnovers was a major area of focus for Wisconsin going into the matchup, as they committed an inauspicious total of 23 turnovers in their last game. This especially held true since Butler was averaging over 10 steals per game prior to Sunday. The Badgers successfully reduced their total to 17 in this game, and it made all the difference. Butler came away with 15 points off turnovers compared to Wisconsin’s 21.
Led in scoring by freshman guard Gabby Gregory’s 15 points, the Badgers ended with three players in double figures. Gregory shot an efficient 4-6 from the three-point range and went 1-2 at the free throw line. Though the Bulldogs also ended up with three players with 10 or more points, the scoring distribution proved to be problematic for Butler, whose bench only managed to produce two points.
Holding an edge of 7.6 rebounds per game over their opponents, Wisconsin went into the Butler game having already established themselves to be a threat down low. Despite their efforts, the Badgers were outrebounded 35-31 and scored a meager eight points in the paint.
Despite two losses to in-state rival UW-Milwaukee and Mississippi University, Tsipis and Wisconsin battled back to take down Tennessee State on Sunday. Fifth-year senior forward Avyanna Young came off the bench to post 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Young, combined with a 21 point performance from junior guard Cayla McMorris, gave Wisconsin the lift they needed to cruise to a much needed win.
The Tennessee State victory was a tale of two lineups as Wisconsin’s bench outscored their starters by a hefty 14 points, an enormous factor in controlling the pace of the game. The Badgers used their second line to perfection, never falling into their normal scoring droughts and maintaining a consistent lead well into the second half.
The second mark in the win column was in Wisconsin’s second matchup in Vegas, following its first in a 69-44 loss to Ole Miss Saturday. The Sunday turnaround prevented another three game losing skid and should provide some momentum going forward as conference play approaches on New Years Day.
In what has been a relatively slow start even to a season even with a new coach at the helm, the wins in the last week provide some solid clarity into the potential of this Wisconsin team going forward. As long as the depth continues to grow with players like Young on the bench, the Badgers should be able to build on their balanced success this week.
Wisconsin now returns home to face the University of North Carolina Thursday at 7 p.m. CT at the Kohl Center. The Tar Heels are 5-1 and coming off a 28 points beat down of Wisconsin’s rival, University of Minnesota.