The Wisconsin women’s basketball team was down by 18 points at the break Thursday night, but found its rhythm in the second half to mount an incredible comeback over Michigan to win 69-67. The Badgers, who hit just one 3-pointer in the first 20 minutes of play, knocked down nine long balls in the second half to overcome a once 20-point deficit, and garner their fifth straight Big Ten win.
Wisconsin has now won eight of its last 10 games and improves to 16-11 overall and 9-8 in the Big Ten Conference. The Wolverines drop to 16-11 overall and 9-8 in the league.
Michigan jumped into the lead from the outset, with Krista Phillips controlling the entire offense early, tallying the first five points for her squad. The Wolverines proceeded to set the pace of the game with an upbeat tempo while controlling the paint and grabbing most of the boards.
The closest Wisconsin came to catching up to Michigan was early on, when UW finally got six points on the scoreboard and Michigan had eight. From there, the Wolverines took over and never looked back. The spark was a 7-0 run, which helped put Michigan up by double digits, 15-6, with 11:38 on the clock.
The Badger offense continued to be stagnant. UW was 3-of-13 for 23 percent from the floor early one while Michigan was shooting 60 percent from the field. With 9:12 on the clock, the Wolverines lead 20-9. Besides missing their shots, the Badgers struggled to pull down the rebounds, despite ranking at the top of the Big Ten Conference in that category.
While Wisconsin continued to miss shots, Michigan proved why it is the top 3-point shooting team in the league. At the half, Michigan hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. Guard, Jessica Minnfield, knocked down 3-of-4 from the long ball.
The Wolverines scored double the points that Wisconsin did after 20 minutes of action, leading 36-18 at the break. UW shot just 20.7 percent on 6-of-9 from the field, registered eight turnovers and was outrebounded 20-16. UW’s counterpart Michigan, shot 58.3 percent on 14-of-24, and was lead by Minnfield who had 13 at the half. Krista Phillips had nine at the break, while Krista Clement had six points off two 3-pointers. The Big Ten’s leading scorer, Jolene Anderson, had just four points at the half.
The Badgers showed better ball movement at the outset of the second half, but were still unable to convert. At the first media timeout, UM lead 38-22 with 15:38 remaining. But as characteristic with Wisconsin, the Badgers were not about to give up and fought hard to get back in the game. Wisconsin finally found its shooting spark, hitting three straight 3-pointers to come within 11, 44-33, with 12 minutes left in the game.
A 3-pointer by Rae Lin D’Alie with just under 11 minutes on the clock cut UM’s lead to seven points, 48-41. Soon after, Wisconsin collected a number of offensive boards, and eventually capped off their effort with another 3-pointer, this time by freshman Alyssa Karel to bring Wisconsin within four, 50-46, with 8:48 to go.
Anderson drained a 3-pointer from deep with 6:30 on the clock to cut the UW lead to two points, 54-52. A Wisconsin steal gave UW another opportunity and Karel sunk another 3-pointer to give the Badgers their first lead of the game, 55-54, with 5:49 to go. Two free throws by UM on its next possession, however, gave Michigan the lead back, 56-55.
A turnover by Wisconsin and two Michigan scoring conversions put the Wolverines back in front by six points with 4:11 left, however, UW freshman Lin Zastrow canned a 3-pointer to bring UW within three, 61-58, with 3:38 left in the game. A pair of free throws by Zastrow pulled UW within one, 61-60. On the other end of the court, Zastrow made another play garnering a steal and capping off UW’s next possession with a strong layup to give Wisconsin the lead, 62-61 with 2:27 to go. An Anderson 3-pointer gave UW a 65-63 lead, but UM’s Clement had an chance to tie the game with free throws, but hit just 1-of-2, so Wisconsin maintained the lead.
With under a minute to go, Wisconsin led 65-64, but Michigan had an opportunity to score before UW’s defense forced a Michigan turnover. Janese Banks was fouled, hit her first free throw, missed the second throw, but Mariah Dunham came down with the board before being fouled and going to the line. At the line, Dunham hit 1-of-2 free throws to give UW a three-point lead, 67-64.
Down the court with under 20 seconds to go, UM’s Carly Benson took an off-balance three from the base line and canned it, tying the game with 13 seconds to go. Wisconsin’s Teah Gant was fouled with 3.3 seconds remaining and given the chance to put the Badgers up by two. Undaunted by the pressure, Gant hit both of the clutch free throws to give the Badgers a 69-67 lead. Michigan’s Minnfield hurried down the floor and got a good final look from deep, but missed to give Wisconsin an incredible comeback victory, 69-67.
The Badgers, whose greatest deficit was 20 points, 42-22, at the first media timeout in the second half, came back to win on the road with help from numerous Badgers who finally found their rhythm. Anderson led all Badgers with 14 points, while Ward and Karel added 11 points each. Ward also grabbed nine boards in the game.
Wisconsin led in rebounding 40-33, 23 of which were offensive. UW finished with just 10 turnovers, while forcing 19 for UM. Michigan hit 51 percent but was outscored by UW 51-to-31 in the second half. UM’s Minnfield led all scorers with 15 points, all of which were scored in the first half with the exception of two.
The Badgers close out their regular-season at home against Iowa on Sunday in a noon match-up. A “Senior Day” video will honor Wisconsin’s four seniors, Jolene Anderson, Janese Banks, Ivana Mijalcevic and Danielle Ward at the game. UW and Iowa previously met in Iowa City, Iowa, with the Hawkeyes coming out on top, 78-74.