Avenging an earlier season loss, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team held off a last-minute Illinois comeback Wednesday night at the Kohl Center. The Badgers downed the Illini, 75-67, to pick up their fourth Big Ten Conference win of the season.
Wisconsin (13-14, 4-11 BIG) played aggressive from the beginning, including a full-court press in their first defensive possession resulting in an Illinois 10 second violation giving the ball to the Badgers.
UW traded buckets with Illinois (10-17, 2-14 BIG) in the first half, which included seven ties and four lead changes. A 7-0 UW run with a 3-point buzzer beater from junior Suzanne Gilreath extended the Badger lead to seven (36-29) at the half.
Illinois grabbed four quick points less than a minute into the third quarter to come within two points (36-34), but that was as close as it would get. Wisconsin led by as many as 12 points (52-40) with less than a minute left in the third quarter and a 10-0 run extend the Badger lead to 17 points (69-52) with just 1:37 left to play.
The Illini knocked down two 3-pointers and continued to fight, coming within six points of UW (71-65) with just 22 seconds left. The Badgers secured the win from the free-throw line, sinking four of six free throws in the final seconds.
Senior Marsha Howard was nearly unstoppable, leading the game with a double-double of 27 points, including two from 3-point range, and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot forward also two steals on the night.
Sophomore Niya Beverley contributed 14 points and added a game-high four assists. Junior Suzanne Gilreath also scored in double figures for the Badgers with 11 points, including two from 3-point range.
Freshman Imani Lewis tallied a game-high 12 rebounds as the Badgers dominated off the glass, 42-27.
UW shot 48.1 percent (25-52) from the field, including 6-14 (42.9 percent) from beyond the arc, and 19-30 (63.3 percent) from the free-throw line. The Illini shot 42.6 percent (26-61) from the field, including 9-24 (37.5 percent) from 3-point range, and 6-9 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe.
Wisconsin outscored the Illini 28-18 in the paint and 20-9 from the bench.