The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (10-13, 2-10 Big Ten) lost their third straight game after falling to the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-14, 2-11) Sunday afternoon, 78–68.
Another disappointing loss for the Badgers came as a result of continued inconsistent play and lack of depth on the offense.
A big reason for the Badger loss was the exceptional play of Illinois’ senior forward Alex Wittinger, who continued to assert her dominance over Wisconsin.
In her freshman year against the Badgers, Wittinger amassed 16 points on just 10 shots to go along with six rebounds.
The only current Badger to play in that game is senior Marsha Howard — she didn’t put up a shot in just seven minutes that night.
As seniors, their stat lines looked much closer, but the victory once again went to Wittinger and the Illini as they showed more depth in successful bench play.
Illinois leaned on some star performances to pull away late over the Badger defense.
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Those Illini stars included Wittinger who dazzled with 24 points — 16 of which came in the second half. Junior guard Brandi Beasley added 16 points of her own, along with nine assists and just one turnover. Arieal Scott scored 10 points off the Illinois bench.
As for the Badgers, Howard pitched in 19 points while playing the entire contest excluding just one minute. Freshman Imani Lewis scored 16 points and snagged seven rebounds in just 22 minutes of play due to foul trouble.
Aside from a lack in depth, Wisconsin’s struggles at the free throw line continue to haunt their season.
Wisconsin converted on only 12 of their 23 tries at the line. Conversely, Illinois was able to knock down 12 of their 14 shots from the line.
Wisconsin’s bench was outscored 22–9 as Abby Laszewski was held to just three points after multiple promising performances over the past couple of games.
While Illinois maintained a small lead throughout the game, and despite their less-than-stellar performance at the charity stripe, the Badgers took a 52–51 lead midway through the third quarter.
But, once again, it was Wittinger who quickly regained the lead which only climbed for the Illini.
Long, inactive stretches led to the Badgers only scoring nine points in the fourth quarter. This made an otherwise surmountable double-digit lead for Illinois look overwhelming for Wisconsin.
These stretches of low offensive productivity are nothing new to this young Badger squad. Limiting the length and volume of these inactive stretches could be critical in their final six contests — including another matchup with Illinois at home.
Wisconsin will keep fighting for Big Ten wins Thursday night at 7 p.m. as they welcome the No. 24 Michigan State Spartans to the Kohl Center and look to stop this losing skid. The game will air on BTN plus and broadcast on 1310 AM radio.