In Wisconsin’s 77-61 loss to Marquette Sunday, the Badgers (3-4) showed that the only consistent aspect of this 2015 team is they are wildly inconsistent.
After a seemingly season-changing win over Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Badgers hoped that by Sunday evening they would have a winning record for the first time since their season opener against Louisiana Tech.
But all season long, the Badgers have been plagued by slow starts. In the first quarter alone this season, Wisconsin has been outscored by their opponents by a combined 23 points. In Sunday’s loss to Marquette, the Badgers got off to their worst start of the season.
With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, the Badgers trailed 20-2 after allowing a 15-0 Golden Eagles run to extend a three-point lead to 15.
The Badgers’ first four possessions of the opening period were especially poor. Senior guard Tessa Cichy turned the ball over on the Badgers’ opening possession of the game. In Wisconsin’s next possession, junior forward Avyanna Young missed two free throws. Sophomore Cayla McMorris and senior guard Nicole Bauman then turned the ball over in the Badgers’ next two possessions, respectively.
But that was just the beginning for UW. For the game, Wisconsin turned the ball over 17 times and the Golden Eagles capitalized on their opportunities, grabbing 27 points off turnovers.
The Badgers played better on the offensive end in the second quarter, but after their dismal opening period, they couldn’t have played any worse. Wisconsin scored 19 points in the second period, but their defense continued to struggle, allowing 21 points.
All told, the Badgers trailed by 15 points at halftime. And after cutting the Golden Eagles lead to eight points thanks to a Nicole Bauman 3-pointer midway through the third quarter, the Golden Eagles went on a run of their own, ending the quarter with a lead identical to that at halftime.
Bauman and senior center Michala Johnson put up 18 and 17 points, respectively, but the rest of the team combined for only 26 points. Senior point guard Dakota Whyte came off the bench for the third consecutive game, and added 11 points and nine assists. Whyte checked in to the game two minutes into the first quarter for McMorris, but it had a null effect.
That’s because the Badgers were also woeful on the glass. They gave up 23 offensive rebounds, leading to 31 second-chance points for the Golden Eagles.
The Badgers ended their five-game road trip with a 2-3 record. They return home this Thursday for the first time since Nov. 18 to host Florida at the Kohl Center.