The Wisconsin women's basketball team came out with a fury Thursday night against Penn State, shredding the Nittany Lions 71-39 in College Park, Penn. The 32-point margin of victory was the largest for Wisconsin this season. The 39 points also marks the second fewest scored by an opponent this season. Only SIU-Edwardsville scored fewer, with just 38.
The Badgers (10-7 Big Ten, 20-8 overall) came into this game with a vengeance after Penn State embarrassed the team at the Kohl Center earlier in the year. The win puts the Badgers in sole possession of third place in the conference, and also guarantees a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
In what has become somewhat of a tradition this season, the Badgers jumped out to a commanding lead early. Wisconsin found themselves up 7-0 just two minutes into the contest. Thursday night however, the Badgers did something they have not always been able to accomplish this year—they held on to that lead.
The team shot 74 percent from the field during the first half, and at halftime Wisconsin led Penn State 40-13. 13 points marks the fourth-fewest points allowed in a half in program history. While the Nittany Lions closed the gap to just a 19-point Badger lead in the second half, this game really was 40 minutes of Wisconsin domination.
""This team is locked into what we're doing. The credit goes to the players,"" head coach Lisa Stone said. ""They are a special group that wants a lot this year. This is a team of servants, and they'll do whatever it takes.""
Leading the team on the night was senior guard Rae Lin D'Alie, who, on her second-to-last regular season career game, posted a career-best 21 points. D'Alie grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Additionally, following up her 19 point performance at Michigan this past Sunday, sophomore guard Anya Covington scored 10, while team-leading scorer junior guard Alyssa Karel contributed 10 as well.
""What a tremendous game by our whole team,"" Stone said. ""Rae Lin was outstanding. She was on fire offensively for us. We did a good job taking care of the ball, and we rebounded well.""
The Badgers turned the ball over just 11 times and capitalized on Penn State's mistakes, scoring 23 points off of 17 Nittany Lion turnovers. Wisconsin shot a season high 57.7 percent from the floor on the night, while holding Penn State to just 27.3 percent shooting. The Nittany Lions only made 12 field goals all evening.
The Badgers will look to take the enormous momentum that this win provides as they head into their regular season finale this Sunday at the Kohl Center, where the team faces the 9-8 Iowa Hawkeyes at 1 p.m. Sunday's game will not only factor incredibly into possible postseason and conference tournament seedings, but will also mark senior night for D'Alie and guard Teah Gant.
""I love this team, and it's in large part the love I have for those two seniors,"" Stone said. ""Sunday will be a great day for us and one where we want to play some great basketball.""
—uwbadgers.com contributed to this report.