Posted-March 1st, 2012 9:23 pm
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A hot start was stopped cold by a strong Gopher defense Thursday night as the No. 9-seeded Wisconsin women's basketball team fell, 81-49, to No. 8 Minnesota in the first round of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
After a start that saw 10 lead changes and three tied scores in the first 10 minutes, Minnesota put together a 14-0 run to take a 31-18 lead with 3:31 remaining in the first half of play. The Gophers' run was bookended by Jackie Voigt with a jumper at the nine-minute mark and a 3-pointer at 3:31 to give Minnesota a 13-point lead.
A pair of free throws by Morgan Paige with 2:29 remaining in the half ended Wisconsin's scoring drought, but the damage had been done and the Badgers were unable to recover. Minnesota ended the first half of play with a 39-23 lead.
Wisconsin's scoring woes continued into the second half, as the Badgers were held scoreless for the first three minutes. A 3-pointer by Taylor Wurtz at 17:04 got Wisconsin on the board and a 3-pointer by Anya Covington with 14:11 remaining highlighted the half, but the game was out of the Badgers' reach.
"We really struggled to score," commented head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "We struggled to pass. We struggled to do a lot of things. But it wasn't for lack of effort and it's just one of those nights where we couldn't really get it going in our favor.
"But we didn't quit. We played all the way to the end. I was very proud of the team. They didn't give up".
Wisconsin shot a season-low 14-of-51 (27.5 percent) from the field, going 6-of-24 (25 percent) from 3-point range. The Badgers were 15-of-19 (78.9 percent) from the charity stripe led by Morgan Paige who was 6-of-6.
Minnesota finished the night 32-of-64 (50 percent) from the floor, including 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from 3-point range, and a 12-of-14 (85.7 percent) performance from the free throw line.
Fifty of the Gophers' 81 points were from in the paint and the Minnesota bench outscored Wisconsin's bench, 27-12. The Gophers outrebounded with 51-24, UW's largest deficit of the season.
Wurtz was the only Badger player in double digits, scoring 13 points, and recording five rebounds. Four Minnesota players scored in double digits, paced by Kiara Buford's 19 points. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Rachel Banham recorded the game's only double-double, with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Badgers wrap up their first season under head coach Bobbie Kelsey with a 9-20 record. Wisconsin finished ninth in the Big Ten at 5-11.
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