The start of the season has not been generous to the University of Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team. Non-conference play has been shaky for Marisa Moseley’s squad and a lot of improvements need to be made to turn the season around.

Wisconsin’s issues were made clear in a devastating 71-63 overtime loss last month to Chicago State, who entered as the underdogs in the match. The Cougars’ win against the Badgers was their fifth victory in the last six seasons.

The look on Chicago State sophomore Ana Haklicka’s face when the buzzer sounded said it all. With tears of pure joy, Haklicka and the rest of her teammates celebrated as if they had just won a national championship. The 0-4 Chicago State Cougars, a program that recorded an 0-14 record with a -22.6 point scoring differential a season ago, shocked almost everyone in the Kohl Center at the Nov. 23 matchup.

Chicago State opened the first quarter on a 12-2 run, holding the Badgers to seven total points and 15.4% from the field after 10 minutes of play. Similar to the Nov. 14 loss against NJIT, UW-Madison simply could not buy a bucket. Moseley’s group went 2-13 from the floor and 0-4 from deep during the 14-point first quarter deficit.

Junior forward Julie Pospíšilová dominated in the third, notching eleven of her 15 points and hitting on eight of ten attempts from the charity stripe. With 4:15 left in the third period of play, Wisconsin secured its first lead of the game and ended the quarter on an 18-9 run. Pospíšilová, Brooke Schramek and Lexi Duckett accounted for all 19 Badger points in the third, and Wisconsin entered the final period clinging to a one-point advantage.

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Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Pospíšilová picked up her fifth personal foul with 59 ticks to go, effectively eliminating her from the final minute of the match. Wisconsin guard Sydney Hilliard hit on a clutch midrange jumper with 41 seconds to spare, but with the final possession in regulation, the Badgers couldn’t overcome a stingy Cougars defense for a clean look. The game boiled over into overtime. 

Chicago State freshman Aaliyah Collins, a Glacier Peak High School graduate and a 2021 Washington First-Team All-State recipient, went ballistic down the stretch. The 5’7’’ guard single handedly outscored Wisconsin 12-11 in overtime with three layups and six free throws. At a game-high 25 points, Collins guided Chicago State to its first win in 27 contests and on-the-road victory against a Big Ten opponent.

The loss to Chicago State was the Badgers third straight non-conference loss at the time, putting them in the same spot they were a year ago at last in the conference. Executing on the offensive end and eliminating turnovers are a large part of the issues we have seen with this team so far.

The Badgers showed these flaws again in a Nov. 25 loss to UW-Milwaukee. With 976 fans packed into the Klotsche Center, Kyle Rechlicz and the UW-Milwaukee Panthers defeated Marisa Moseley’s Badgers 79-67 in a high scoring battle.

Despite shooting 50% from the floor, the Badgers could not overcome the high-powered offensive attack of UW-Milwaukee. Off an efficient 53.6% from the field, Rechlicz’s group accounted for 23 points off turnovers compared to six for Wisconsin.

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The game was tied at 42 at halftime, and UW-Madison executed on a remarkable 68.75% of their attempts in the second period of play. Badger forward Sara Stapleton recorded all nine of her points in only 10:13 minutes on the hardwood. Regardless of a sub-par defensive effort, Wisconsin did not waver during a back-and-forth first two quarters.

Moseley’s squad looked almost unfamiliar following halftime, registering nine total points in the third off 28.57% from the field and 16.67% from downtown. Thanks to a Hilliard jumper, the Badgers finally secured their first second-half points at the 6:37 mark in the third following a 3:31 scoring drought.

Turnovers and foul trouble plagued the Badgers yet again, as they have throughout non-conference play. The Panthers reached the charity stripe 8 more times than Wisconsin and notched seven fewer giveaways compared to the red and white. Though UW-Milwaukee only made 14 of 18 foul-line attempts, the Badgers committed 20 personal fouls during the match — far too many for Moseley’s liking.

Even though the Panthers shot 31.3% from behind-the-arc, Wisconsin’s stagnant offense could not execute down the stretch, chalking up 17 fewer points than their first half total.

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After coming up short in four straight outings, Marisa Moseley’s Badgers secured their first victory against Gordy Presnell and the Boise State Broncos 60-45 in a dominant defensive effort on Nov. 27.

Moseley’s group turned up the intensity on both ends in this game, forcing nine turnovers in the second period alone. With a spark from freshman Krystyna Ellew, who accounted for two looks from behind-the-arc and four rebounds in only eight minutes on the hardwood, UW-Madison went 50% on three-point attempts and outscored Boise State 18-11 before halftime.

In 33 minutes of action, Pospíšilová registered a game-high 15 points, eight dimes and seven boards off 42.9% efficiency from three. Hilliard added 11 points, five rebounds and two swipes while forward Schrameck chalked up eight points and two steals of her own in only 20 total minutes.

The Badgers followed up their victory at the Rocky Mountain Classic with a disappointing loss against a strong Colorado team. 

CU dominated almost the entire match, holding the advantage for nearly 37 minutes. The Badgers only reached the charity stripe four times, and the Buffaloes forced 18 turnovers.

Overall, it has not been the start that head coach Marisa Moseley was hoping for. The Badgers have gotten off to a disappointing beginning in non-conference play, including losses in games they were really expected to win.

But there is still plenty of time for the Badgers to improve their play, and that will start with execution on the offensive end of the floor.