Women’s Basketball: Badgers follow upset with back-to-back losses against Minnesota, Northwestern

With the Big Ten Tournament looming, Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis and the Badgers still search for answers

Justin Mielke/The Badger Herald

After the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team (5-15, 2-15 Big Ten) upset Ohio State (13-4, 9-4), the Badgers were unable to come out on top in their second matchup against Minnesota (7-11, 6-10), losing 68–63. Lewis finished with 27 points, but this time it wasn’t enough for Wisconsin to add another win to their record. After a disappointing loss, the Badgers looked to get vengeance in their Feb. 20 matchup against Northwestern (12-5, 10-5).

The Badgers put up a challenge against the Wildcats, a team they lost to by 25 points earlier this season. The Badgers entered Saturday’s game with a disappointing 1-9 record in their past 10 matchups against the Wildcats.

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Unfortunately, the Badgers’ struggles continued, particularly with taking care of the ball, and they turned the ball over 26 times, resulting in a disappointing 67–54 loss to Northwestern.

In what was ultimately a much closer game than the final score indicated, eight first-quarter giveaways gave the Wildcats the opportunity to bust the game wide open, and they obliged. After trailing the Badgers 11–10 midway through the first, Northwestern ripped off a 27–9 run and never looked back.

The second half fared better, with a more aggressive Sydney Hilliard — 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting — forcing the issue offensively. In fact, the starters — a unit that once again featured Tara Stauffacher in favor of Sara Stapleton — finished the second half a combined +23.

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It’s the time of year when teams begin looking at the Big Ten Tournament out of the corner of their eye. The 2021 edition, to be held in Indianapolis, will almost certainly feature the Badgers among the four teams to play in the opening round.

The Badgers have to smooth out their inconsistencies in these last four games if they hope to make a deep tournament run, namely balancing aggressiveness and control on the offensive end.

Hilliard, though undoubtedly productive in the second half, has the problematic tendency to wait until the second half to fully unleash her decisive quickness and aggression. When Hilliard demonstrates this aggression out of the gate, she opens opportunities up for the rest of the offense.

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With Hilliard’s running mate Julie Pospíšilovà, the problem to solve is how to maximize her offensive talents. She’s the best half-court passer on the team, a dead-eye shooter and can be the best Badger on any given night. But with only five points and four turnovers to her name against Northwestern, it’s clear that there’s a disconnect between her skillset and how she’s implemented in Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis’ offense.

When Lewis, Pospíšilovà and Hilliard are all clicking at the same time, the Badgers are a tough out against anyone in the Big Ten. As tournament season looms, it will be critical for Tsipis to unlock a style where they complement one another’s game.


This article was published Feb 22, 2021 at 7:58 pm and last updated Feb 22, 2021 at 9:38 pm


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