Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Women’s Basketball: Wisconsin falls in quarterfinal of NIT to Saint Louis

Fourth quarter magic can not overcome injuries to Williams, Copeland
Maddox Durst

The University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s run through the National Invitation Tournament ended in the Great 8 as a shorthanded UW group (15-17) fell 65-60 to Saint Louis University (20-18) April 1.

The Badgers were dealt a devastating blow less than one minute into the game when star forward Serah Williams landed awkwardly and was taken straight to the locker room after being physically unable to get back on defense.

Losing the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — who entered the game leading her team in points, rebounds, field-goal percentage and blocks — was instantly devastating for UW on both ends of the floor. Bad became worse when fellow sophomore Sania Copeland — a primary perimeter defender coming off scoring 18 points on eight shots — was inadvertently elbowed in the face in the second quarter.


A noticeably dazed Copeland did not return to the game and the Badgers entered halftime with a 30-22 deficit and without their two leading scorers. UW shot just 8-for-28 from the field and 2-for-11 from deep in the first half while committing nine turnovers.

The Billikens continued riding their defense through the third quarter and an eight-point UW deficit ballooned to 12 with four minutes left in the third quarter. But, the offensively-challenged Badgers mustered eight points in the final two minutes and recaptured momentum heading into the biggest fourth quarter of the season.

That momentum continued into the fourth when a Ronnie Porter layup capped off a 14-5 Wisconsin run. Suddenly, the shorthanded, scrappy Badgers cut the deficit to one possession and found themself trailing 48-50 with 7:15 to play.

A loud, tense Kohl Center crowd watched UW tie the game three times yet never take a lead in the following six minutes of game time. The dam finally broke when freshman Tessa Grady’s 3-pointer with 79 seconds left gave UW a 58-57 lead and sent the Badger faithful into a frenzy.

The two teams exchanged late baskets, but three Badgers’ turnovers in the final 46 seconds enabled the Billikens to put the game away with a 6-0 spurt.

After an emotional thank you to the home fans for their season-long support, head coach Marisa Moseley expressed encouragement for the performance given the context of multiple key injuries.

“I’m really proud of them because we didn’t fold,” Moseley said after the game. “We didn’t fold in that first game against SIU and then obviously we played really well the other night. This was a different kind of game and each game is like that. We had to grind it out a little bit and I was really proud of their effort.”

UW struggled down low throughout the contest and was ultimately outscored 32-24 in the paint. Missed open layups were frequent and the void left by Williams’ absence was undeniable.

The Badgers were also 19-for-53 from the field — struggling to string together multiple scoring possessions in a row.

“I think in those moments, normally we would be able to throw the ball to Serah and get a bucket or get to the free throw line or we’d get an offensive rebound or something like that,” Moseley said.

Senior Halle Douglass took on the role of Williams-replacement and played a team-high 38 minutes. Douglass gave Wisconsin seven points but made her impact felt to the tune of seven rebounds, four assists and three steals which were all team-highs.

The performance was a solid end to the season for Douglass who spent the season regaining her health after returning from an ACL injury midway through the season.

“It kind of sucks to go out like this, but I feel like we should be really proud of what we did and how we were playing these past few games,” Douglass said.

The loss marred what was by any account a successful season for the program. UW increased its win total for the third consecutive season under Moseley and its .469 win percentage was its highest since the 2010-2011 season. The team contained plenty of young talent with Porter flashing game-wrecking potential throughout the bout.

Porter — who usually specializes in setting up Williams down low — took over as primary scorer and gave UW 17 points including seven in the fourth quarter. Freshman D’Yanis Jimenez also gave the Badgers a spark in Copeland’s absence with 12 points on five shots and a +10 rating in 19 minutes.

Despite the promising future that the program holds, the heartbreaking loss still hurts for a team that played its best basketball down the stretch.

“We continued to battle and fight and really just showed a lot of grit and toughness and just a will to want to win the game,” Mosley said. “I hate that it ended this way for this group because I really believed that they deserved to experience winning a championship together.”

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