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Monday, December 11, 2023

Badgers hang with Terrapins but can't pull off upset

Another high-scoring game and another loss for Badgers’ women’s basketball (4-11 Big Ten, 8-17 overall), as they fell 81-70 to No. 5 Maryland (15-0, 24-2) Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

Maryland extended its winning streak to 18, best in the Big Ten, while the Badgers lost for the eighth time in nine games.

"We saw what a No. 5 team in the country looks like," said head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "They are who we thought they were. They played very well, and I thought we played well ... a couple more of our [shots] going in, maybe it's a different game."

Turnovers and poor interior defense cost Wisconsin in the first half; the Terrapins scored 20 points off 11 Badger turnovers, while dominating the paint for 22 points.

The game got off to a wild start, with five early Wisconsin turnovers giving Maryland a quick 21-6 lead just eight minutes into the game.

Sophomore Maryland guards Lexie Brown and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough led the charge early, combing to shoot 6-7 from the floor for 14 of the Terrapins' first 21 points. Those two would finish with 15 and 17 points, respectively.

A sloppy outlet pass by redshirt junior guard Brene Moseley gave the Badgers the ball with 22 seconds left in the first half. Junior guard Nicole Bauman drove and kicked the ball out to junior guard Dakota Whyte, who buried a three pointer with just three seconds left before halftime.

Down by 13 to start the second half, Wisconsin went on a 16-6 run to cut the Terps’ lead to 3. Just when it felt like the Badgers would make a game of it, Walker-Kimbrough buried a three and a layup on consecutive possessions to silence the crowd.

At that point, sophomore Maryland center Brionna Jones turned it on. She scored seven of the next 10 points for the Terps, to go along with 6 rebounds to extend the lead to 65-49.

“There was a plan to guard Jones,” Kelsey said. "But then 22 [junior forward Tierney Pfirman] started hitting ... [Jones is] a big girl ... that's a weapon for them."

Maryland would lead by as much as 19, but the Badgers would whittle that down to 10, but lights out free-throw shooting from the Terps shut down any hope of a comeback.

Jones finished with game-highs of 20 points and 15 rebounds, and combined with Walker-Kimbrough to shoot 60 percent from the floor.

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Whyte, Bauman and junior guard Tessa Cichy led the way for the Badgers with 16, 16 and 17 points, respectively, while Bauman finished one rebound shy of a double-double.

Maryland finished with 36 paint points to Wisconsin's 28, as well as 28 points off turnovers to Wisconsin's 13.

The Badgers host the Northwestern Wildcats Sunday in the team’s final home game of the season. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

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