After managing to defeat Illinois at Champaign’s Assembly Hall Feb. 2, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (11-13, 3-10 Big Ten) returned home to face a Minnesota team they had beaten just two weeks earlier in the Twin Cities. The Golden Gophers (15-9, 5-8) — despite losing standout guard Destiny Pitts to the transfer portal — avenged their Jan. 22 loss to the Badgers with relative ease.
Just three days later, the Badgers fell again to the Ohio State Buckeyes (14-9, 7-5) in Columbus. With this loss, they fell to a disappointing 11-13 record on the year after a relatively promising start to their 2019-2020 campaign.
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Wisconsin welcomed a Minnesota team to the Kohl Center on Thursday that had finally recovered from internal tension which saw the transfer of Destiny Pitts from the program. Despite being in enemy territory, the Gophers got off to a hot start and dominated nearly every facet of the game during its first 20 minutes.
After being held under 10 total points and falling down by nine points in the first quarter alone, Wisconsin lost touch with a Minnesota team that seemed to be completely free from any baggage left by the loss of Destiny Pitts. Before the Badgers knew what hit them, they were down 43–19 at the half — easily their worst halftime deficit of the year at home.
In the second half, Wisconsin showed a competitive will and gradually chipped away the Golden Gophers’ monumental advantage. Led by Abby Laszewski’s 25 points, the Badgers cut the lead to less than 10 points in the closing stages. They eventually managed a 12–4 run in the fourth quarter that made the final score appear more reasonable. Despite a valiant comeback effort, the fate of the game had been largely decided by the end of the third quarter.
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After a tough home loss, Wisconsin traveled to Columbus to face a Buckeyes team which had won two straight games, including an overtime win against Nebraska and a blowout victory over Illinois. The Badgers played much better across all four quarters, keeping in touch with the home team throughout most of the contest.
Wisconsin was ahead early on before a 9–0 scoring run brought OSU into a 22–20 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Badgers were outscored in the second period as well, due in part to the lack of a three point presence as they failed to convert a single shot from deep the entire quarter.
With another strong game from forward Laszewski, who contributed 26 points on 11 of 15 shooting, Wisconsin always managed to remain in striking distance of the Buckeyes. The Badgers committed 18 turnovers and allowed OSU 22 fast break points in the loss.
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For a Wisconsin team now starving for a victory in conference play, turnovers and fast break points must be limited. Every possession is key in the Big Ten, and wasted opportunities at the basket have proven costly in recent contests.
The Badgers will take on Purdue at the Kohl Center Thursday, Feb. 13. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m.