Just a week ago, the Ohio State Buckeyes (14-14, 10-8 Big Ten) marched into the Kohl Center and handed the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (15-17, 4-14) a 61–50 defeat. The Badgers’ 50 points were tied for their fourth-worst scoring outing on the season.
Thursday afternoon, however, Wisconsin notched 51 points in the second half alone en route to a 73–63 win over the Buckeyes.
Seniors Kelly Karlis and Marsha Howard prolonged their careers at least another day with mammoth scoring efforts, chipping in 24 and 23 points, respectively. Head coach Jonathan Tsipis praised his seniors’ efforts after the win.
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“[Karlis and Howard] were making shots, getting stops for us on the other end, and once we got the lead, you could see they were putting in everything they had,” Tsipis said.
At the halftime break, the Badgers trailed 32–22 shooting a dreadful 7-for-31 from the field. But an impressive third quarter found the Badgers trailing by just three points as the fourth quarter loomed.
Throughout the year, the Badgers have followed impressive third quarter efforts with underwhelming fourth quarters. But Wisconsin closed the game with perhaps their finest quarter of the season with four three-pointers from four different players – including freshman Imani Lewis, who connected on the first triple of her young career.
Wisconsin outscored the Buckeyes 30–17 in the final frame and finished the game with 11-for-17 from beyond the arc, which was an accomplishment given that the Badgers were among the worst three-point shooting teams in the Big Ten this season.
To close the game, Wisconsin made clutch free throws — something that has plagued them all season long. UW ranked 341st in the country in free throw percentage.
The win comes after two previous losses to Ohio State this season. Their victory over Penn State Wednesday also came after two previous losses earlier in the year. This latest win sets up a quarterfinal match-up with Michigan who — you guessed it — also beat Wisconsin twice this year. Wisconsin is the only 13-seed to ever win a game in the Big Ten tournament, and now they’ve won two.
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The Badgers hung well with the Wolverines in their first match-up, but Michigan squashed Wisconsin this past Sunday 59–49 to close out the regular season. The Wolverine defense surrendered only 14 points to the Karlis-Howard duo. If the Badgers want to keep their historic run alive, they’ll need to lean on their seniors.
Wisconsin tips off against Michigan at 1:25 p.m. Friday in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Catch the game live on Big Ten Network or listen live at 100.9 FM.