The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (4-1) earned their fourth win of the year but had to fight for every one of their 63 points against Eastern Illinois (3-3). The Panthers responded to every Wisconsin attempt to pull away and managed to keep the game within reach from start to finish.
The Badgers — coming off of a convincing performance against intrastate rival Milwaukee, which saw rebounding prowess and field goal efficiency — were challenged in the early phases of their matchup against the Panthers. The first quarter saw the lead change hands, and aggressive defensive tactics from Eastern Illinois kept the pressure high.
Turnovers keep teams close in basketball, an approach Panthers Head Coach Matt Bollant clearly had his team poised to exploit from the tip. The Badgers conceded possession 14 times throughout the game, and paid for it on the scoreboard. Through a quarter of action, their lead was only seven despite excellent shooting in the opening frame.
Both teams cooled off in a significant manner in the second quarter, and the Badgers struggled to find their rhythm as the game became increasingly sloppy. Wisconsin hit only four field goals in the period, but made their free throws and maintained a narrow advantage at the halftime buzzer, 31–28.
The start of the second half saw Wisconsin finally put some separation between themselves and the Panthers, and a reinvigorated defensive intensity earmarked a three-minute stretch to open the period in which Eastern Illinois failed to score. This 10–0 run established a tone for the Badgers that would last the rest of the way, as Wisconsin flipped on cruise control towards the end.
The entire fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s contest served as a warning for resting on the laurels of a big lead. The Panthers closed the gap drastically and made it closer than Wisconsin could have wanted, but in the end the Badgers had enough in the tank and earned their fourth win of the year with a 63–55 finish.
The Badgers now head to the Bahamas to take on the Ball State Cardinals. Tipoff is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.