Badgers Fight Off Gophers for Border Battle Win

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- A late run by the Gophers was stopped short by a strong Badger offense, as the Wisconsin women's basketball team defeated Minnesota, 78-72, Thursday night at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

Wisconsin (7-13, 3-5 Big Ten) took the lead just over a minute into the first half and didn't relent for its second-consecutive Big Ten win.

The Gophers (11-11, 3-5 Big Ten) made a 7-0 run to bring the score within five with 3:27 to go, but three free throws in the final 16 seconds by Morgan Paige clinched the win for the Badgers.

The Badgers went ahead, 4-2, at 18:49 in the first half on a jumper by Paige and surged to a 23-11 lead by the first media time out.

"We always emphasize that when you come into someone else's place you have to get a good start," said head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "We had to really come out and play from the beginning of the game. We couldn't dig ourselves a hole."

A 3-pointer by Taylor Wurtz with 10:36 remaining in the first half gave the Badgers a 15-point lead, 28-13. Another trey, this time by Jacki Gulczynski, 22 seconds later gave Wisconsin its largest lead of the game, 31-15. The Gophers chipped away at Wisconsin's lead, outscoring the Badgers 7-2 in the final 3:20 to end the first half 41-32.

Wisconsin returned from the break and missed its first three shots before a free throw by Wurtz 40 seconds in settled the Badgers down. A free throw by Minnesota's Katie Loberg at 17:07 brought the Gophers within five, but Wisconsin's offense was too powerful for the Gophers.

Anya Covington led the Badgers with 19 points, while Paige and Wurtz chipped in 18 each as the Badgers put up a season-high 78 points.

"I am very proud of our group," remarked Kelsey. "We worked hard this week to prepare for a great Minnesota team. They are very good shooters, penetrators and they do share the ball. We had an opportunity here and we wanted to capitalize on it and I am very proud of our team for persevering through a tough game."

Wurtz led the Badgers on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds, as Wisconsin outrebounded Minnesota, 36-35.

The Badgers were 30-of-60 (50 percent) from the floor, including 9-of-18 (50 percent) beyond the arc. Minnesota shot 22-of-55 (40 percent) from the field and 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from 3-point range. The Gophers won the battle at the free throw line, making 28 trips and recording 22 freebies (78.6 percent). Wisconsin was 9-of-16 (56.3 percent) from the charity stripe.

Wisconsin returns home to the Kohl Center on Monday, Jan. 30, for a 6:30 p.m. game against Michigan.

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