Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong for the University of Wisconsin (5-16, 2-16 Big Ten) when the Indiana University Hoosiers (15-4, 13-2 Big Ten) rolled into town on Wednesday night.
The 11th ranked Hoosiers dominated the glass and the paint, but the largest concern for the Badgers was a second-quarter ankle injury sustained by star guard Sydney Hilliard. Hilliard shot 2/7 from the field in her first seventeen minutes, but was unable to return in the second half. As the team’s leading scorer at 16.2 PPG, the severity of her injury will be a huge factor in how far the team is able to advance in the upcoming Big Ten tournament.
Two early fouls for Imani Lewis ruined the rhythm for the Badgers early and removed the team’s interior presence. From that point, the Hoosiers had their way. For an already dominant defense, removing a player who had been averaging 18-12 in her past ten games made the night all the easier.
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The Hoosiers enjoyed a 50-22 rebounding advantage — the largest disparity for the Badgers this season. Lewis’ absence early contributed to this deficit, but Wisconsin had no answer for Indiana forward Mackenzie Holmes from the jump. Her nine boards paced the Hoosiers, but three of her teammates also pitched in at least seven rebounds of their own.
“On the other end, they were obviously sensational on the glass,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said, per UW Athletics. “We talked about it at halftime when it was minus 12 and it didn’t get better, minus 18 in the second half. They’re such a good team to begin with and then when they control the backboards … that helped them get to the free-throw line and there’s a disparity there obviously with 21 attempts. There’s a reason they are one of the top defensive teams in the country.”
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A rare turn of events for the Badgers was winning the turnover battle, in large part because of the smart decision-making of sophomore guard Julie Pospíšilovà. Flanked by freshman Halle Douglass for the majority of the second half because of Hilliard’s injury, the two combined for just three turnovers.
Pospíšilovà led the way with 16 points and looked comfortable being the primary playmaker. Her being consistently decisive is a great sign for the Badgers, especially if Hilliard is to miss extended time. Douglass would likely be the starting option in that case.
The Badgers will have an opportunity to turn things around on national TV against Caitlyn Clarke and the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday, Feb. 28th.