The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team delivered an enthralling first-half performance before hitting a wall in the second.
Following their win in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament against Rutgers, the Badgers fell to No. 6 Michigan State Thursday 70-63.
The Badgers came roaring out of the gate, stealing themselves a 14-13 lead after the first quarter and expanding upon their strong start by outscoring the Spartans 23-17 in the second.
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By the half, Wisconsin had given itself a 7 point lead over MSU by shooting the ball at an efficient clip of 46.9 percent and pounding their way into the lane for 26 points in the paint. Rather unusual for this UW team, the Badgers had also not allowed any fast break points in the first two quarters of play.
Second opportunities were the kiss of death for the Badgers in the second half. The Spartans fought their way to 17 second-chance points in the final two periods. The underlying cause for Wisconsin’s difficulty limiting MSU possessions was the 28-15 second-half rebound differential. MSU pulled down 15 offensive boards alone, impressively surpassing their own work on the defensive glass.
All in all, the Badgers could not have been dissatisfied with their team scoring effort. UW’s postseason veteran leadership shone through as upperclassmen Cayla McMorris and Avyanna Young combined for 35 points.
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Demonstrating great offensive and defensive growth, Wisconsin fought valiantly alongside one of the conference’s stronger teams in what will indisputably be viewed as a milestone for head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ young team. Sophomore forward Marsha Howard led the way for her fellow underclassmen, putting forth a noteworthy 10 points and seven rebounds.
As for MSU’s fate, the Spartans would eventually go on to play Michigan and then conference champion Maryland in the semifinals.
With their commendable performance turned heartbreaking loss, the Badgers’ season was drawn to a close. Watching The Big Dance from Madison won’t necessarily be easy to swallow, but with a lot to be proud of from their last month of play, this rebuilding team won’t be caught hanging their heads in shame.