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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Anya Covington

Despite the return of senior forward Anya Covington to the starting lineup, the Badgers offense was anemic Thursday night.

Women's Basketball: Badgers drop fourth-straight game in loss to Michigan State

Both the Wisconsin men and women's basketball squads couldn't hang with Michigan State on Thursday night. The Kohl Center hosted the women's edition of the budding Big Ten rivalry, and the Spartans left Madison with an easy 62-46 victory over the Badgers.

"This was probably our worst game of the year, both ends of the floor," head coach Bobbie Kelsey said.

Michigan State (8-5 Big Ten, 16-10 overall) took a 6-4 lead on a jumper by senior forward Lykendra Johnson nearly three minutes in, and the Spartans held the lead for the rest of the game. Johnson was nearly unstoppable on the night, shooting 8-for-11 from the field and leading her team in both points with 16 and rebounds with seven.

"[Johnson]'s such a team player that she'd rather be a complimentary player than a go-to player at times," MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. "So we sort of challenged her to be more aggressive out of the gates, and I thought she was obviously a post presence for us."

It was an abysmal offensive performance for Wisconsin (4-9, 8-17), who lost for the fourth-straight time. Senior forward Anya Covington rejoined the starting lineup for the first time in two weeks, and she was the only Badger to score in double-digits with 10 points. Junior guard Taylor Wurtz struggled from the field, shooting 3-for-13 on field goals and 1-for-6 on three-pointers.

"I don't think we were as aggressive, and I'll take blame for that too, being hesitant about taking shots and things like that," Wurtz said.

The Badgers are closing in on the school's single season record for three-pointers made, needing only 18 more to pass the mark of 174 set in 2001-'02. However, they didn't make much progress on that front on Thursday, shooting only 2-for-10 from three-point range. Opposing teams have been paying a lot of defensive attention to Wisconsin from beyond the arc in recent games.

"Not only do [the Badgers] shoot a lot of them, but they make them," Merchant said. "Our goal was really to get up in them and guard the arc."

Michigan State came into Thursday's game with the best rebounding margin of any Big Ten team, out-rebounding opponents by an average of 6.5 per game. Their strong rebounding skill was on display at the Kohl Center, as the Spartans picked up 38 rebounds compared to Wisconsin's 21.

There were some bright performances from the Wisconsin bench, despite the defeat. Freshman guard Lacia Gorman finished with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting and junior guard Tiera Stephen created a spark defensively with three steals.

The Badgers are back in action Sunday with a road game at No. 16 Nebraska. Wisconsin played the Cornhuskers tough in Madison Jan. 12, but Nebraska emerged with a 75-69 victory. With only three games remaining in the regular season schedule, the Badgers are hoping to end their current losing streak and finish the season on a strong note.

"We just have to go in with the mentality that we're gonna get these next three games, and we're gonna work hard and give it our all," Wurtz said.

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