Over the past two weeks, the Wisconsin women's basketball team has shown that it can hang with any Big Ten team for 40 minutes, home or away. But against Iowa at the Kohl Center Thursday, it was the overtime period that did the Badgers in.
Paced by junior center Morgan Johnson's 27 points, the Hawkeyes (5-5 Big Ten, 13-10 overall) secured an 85-79 victory over the Badgers (4-6, 8-14) in the extra period. With the loss, Wisconsin fell to 0-2 against the Hawkeyes this season. The Badgers played without one of their captains, senior forward Anya Covington, due to complications from an illness.
"We needed one more person scoring a little bit more with Anya being out," head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. "We're not a one person band here. Obviously we missed her, but we had enough to win the game and we didn't pull it out, and that's unfortunate."
Covington is Wisconsin's leading rebounder and her absence may have hurt the Badgers in that battle against the Hawkeyes, as Iowa outrebounded Wisconsin 48-35 and nearly had as many offensive rebounds (21) as Wisconsin had defensive rebounds (25).
Iowa freshman guard and reigning Miss Wisconsin Basketball Samantha Logic had an excellent performance in her first return back to her home state. The Racine, Wis. native set a career-high in points with 20 and rebounds with 13.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, their overtime victory was tempered by a knee injury suffered by junior guard Jaime Printy in the final minute of overtime.
"As of right now, she doesn't feel very good about it," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "It's pretty bittersweet."
In the first half, senior guard Jade Davis and junior guard Taylor Wurtz provided the offensive spark for Wisconsin. After 20 minutes of play, Davis was 6-for-7 from the field and Wurtz was 5-for-6. Also in the first half, the Badgers as a team were scorching from beyond the arc, shooting 72.7 percent on three-point attempts. The hot shooting gave the Badgers a 44-38 lead heading into halftime.
Iowa's defense was able to clamp down on the perimeter in the second half and overtime. The Badgers only made three of their final 20 three-point attempts, including an abysmal 0-for-6 mark in overtime.
"We played much better defense in the second half," Bluder said. "Obviously we defended the three better, and kept track of Jade Davis much better. She had an outstanding first half."
Thanks to their stronger defensive play, the Hawkeyes were able to take a 58-56 lead on the Badgers with 10:42 remaining in the second half. Wisconsin kept it close, however, and Wurtz drained a three to tie the game at 73 with 1:10 remaining, putting the Kohl Center crowd into a frenzy. Sophomore guard Morgan Paige had a chance to give the Badgers the lead in the final seconds when she drove into the lane, but she couldn't sink her layup attempt.
"Unfortunate that Morgan couldn't make that shot, she usually does," Kelsey said. "I know she was trying really hard to make that shot."
The Badgers struggled from the field in the overtime period, and Logic was able to seal the victory for the Hawkeyes, draining a jumper and four free throws in the final two minutes. In the defeat, Wurtz finished with 27 points, Paige with 17 and Davis with 16.
Despite the tough loss, Wisconsin again proved to be a tough out for any team in the Big Ten Conference. It won't be wise for any upcoming opponent to overlook a game against these resilient Badgers.
"We're sticking together and that's the most important part," Davis said. "Together, we can beat anybody."