A sea of red flooded out of Fiserv Forum on Friday night breathing a sigh of relief after Johnny Davis eliminated all hopes of a Cinderella story for Colgate.
Wisconsin defeated the 14-seeded Colgate Raiders 67-60 in a game that was tight until the final buzzer. The Badgers clamped down defensively in the latter part of the second half, and with Davis’ explosive 25 points, they managed to survive and advance to the Round of 32 against Iowa State.
It was competitive throughout and at times it looked like Colgate was poised to take over. The Raiders were red hot from 3-point range out of halftime and it felt like every time senior guard Tucker Richardson heaved one up, it was falling.
The Badgers withstood the 3-point barrage, however, and made key defensive adjustments. Coach Greg Gard called for heavy defensive pressure, running the Colgate shooters off of the 3-point line. This made it difficult for the Raiders to get any good looks at all and it showed with their last make from behind-the-arc coming at the 12:42 mark.
The bread and butter for Colgate is the 3-point shot with an outstanding 40% efficiency from deep this season. When the Badgers eliminated that from their arsenal, the Raiders were overwhelmed.
At this time, Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year, saw his opportunity to put the game away and he took it. Davis stepped up in the big moment as he has done throughout his incredible season, scoring the Badgers’ final 14 points in the victory.
Junior forward Tyler Wahl was another vital part of the win with a big presence in the paint, scoring 15 points and snatching nine rebounds. The starters were forced to play heavy minutes in this one, with Davis, Wahl and Brad Davison all playing 37 intense minutes.
While it was not a flashy victory, the Badgers were tested and proved they could survive a scare in March. They started slow, maybe in part due to nerves from playing in front of the home crowd, according to Greg Gard, but those nerves can be settled — for now.
In the next matchup against Iowa State, Gard will look for a better start on the offensive end in terms of shot selection and rhythm. The Badgers tip off at 5:10 CT on Sunday with hopes of reaching the Sweet 16.