Coming into back-to-back ranked contests, the University of Wisconsin’s women’s basketball team (11-17, 3-14 Big Ten) lost four in a row and 10 of their last 12 matchups — most of them convincingly — leaving little momentum to carry towards potential upsets. Home court advantage proved non-existent against No. 7 Maryland (23-4, 18-2) and No. 18 Northwestern (24-3, 14-2).
The Badgers, after struggling mightily for four quarters against the Iowa Hawkeyes, returned home to find more of the same from another top 25 rival. Maryland quickly dispelled upset hopes and silenced the already eerily empty Kohl Center — running to a 19 point lead in just the first quarter and holding Wisconsin under 10 points to establish the flow of the game.
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There was no doubt heading into Wednesday’s game against the Terrapins who the favorites were. Yet, the halftime margin still surprised Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis, who lamented his preparation for the battle with the conference leaders. Nevertheless, he was proud of his squad for competing throughout the entire game, and gave his players credit for keeping morale high.
“No matter if it was a minute in or the last 30 seconds, our group was together and cheering for each other up off the bench. I thought they fought until the horn went off” said Tsipis, per UW athletics.
Wisconsin trailed by as many as 34 and eventually lost by 29, but won the fourth quarter as Maryland let off the gas. They aimed to take the 85–66 defeat as an overall negative surrounded by positives that could be taken into the game against Northwestern. The Wildcats had other ideas on Saturday.
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Back at the Kohl Center, the Badgers played with an energy and revitalized spirit, taking the No. 18 team to its limit throughout the first half. They stayed with Northwestern bucket-for-bucket and went into the half trailing by a score of just 37–34. Despite an aggressive start to the third quarter, however, the game began to slip away.
Wisconsin would eventually fall 82–66, and that scoreline indicates a comfortable win for the visitors, though that was definitely not the case. The Badgers battled hard despite having a frankly pathetic home crowd. Attendance has been lacking all season, and it’s hard to garner a winning culture without the support of the student body behind you.
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The season may be drawing to a close on a rough note, but there have been encouraging signs in the last games of progress for the season to come and for the future of the program. The Badgers turned the ball over an astonishing 25 times in the loss to the Terrapins, but improved on that mark drastically against similar competition just days later, proving there is a will to improve throughout the entire roster.
Wisconsin will look to continue to isolate its issues and end their 2019-2020 campaign on a higher note as they travel to Piscataway to face Rutgers on Thursday, Feb. 27. Tip off from the RAC is at 6 p.m.