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Saturday, March 02, 2024
Wisconsin Women's Basketball

Wisconsin squanders late lead, remains winless under Tsipis

Coach Jonathan Tsipis’ young Badger squad got their first taste of late-game disappointment Sunday night, as their execution down the stretch against the Saint Francis Red Flash ended up costing them the game.

Wisconsin (0-2) held a 21-17 lead after the first quarter, but after that the Red Flash (1-0) out-hustled and out-thought the Badger defense, translating to a 80-79 Saint Francis lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Badgers regained control of the lead––and seemingly the game––taking a 95-91 advantage with 3:57 left in the quarter. But costly turnovers, ill-advised fouls and missed turnovers for the Badgers paved the way for the Red Flash to retake the lead and close out the game 103-100.

Amongst all the faults in almost all facets of the game late for the Badgers, they still, miraculously, lucked into a turnover down 103-100 at half court with eight seconds left. But, there was no communication on who was going to take the last shot, as multiple Badgers played hot potato with the ball until the clock nearly ran out.

In a last-ditch effort, freshman guard Gabby Gregory hoisted up a contested three at the buzzer, but it failed to draw iron, resulting in a home-opening win that slipped through the hands of Wisconsin.

“I think our team is competing,” said Tsipis. “Trying to ... hang our hat on our defense, obviously is not there yet.”

That defense was bombarded by a barrage of Saint Francis three point attempts, as the Red Flash connected on 15 of their 44 attempts.

“Last year they shot 51 threes in a game,” said Tsipis. “When you shoot 44 [like tonight] you’re probably gonna make some.”

The Badgers could not keep up with the two sharpshooting guards for Saint Francis, redshirt senior Katie Reese and sophomore Jessica Kovatch, who had 27 and 29 points respectively. This included four three-pointers a piece, three more than the entire Badger team.

“She’s a shooter; she can do pretty much everything,” said junior guard Cayla McMorris on guarding Kovatch.

While the Badgers did have glaring needs defensively on display Sunday evening, the offense chugged its way to a whopping 100 points, a feat not seen in over a decade, last coming in 2004.

That offense was led by McMorris’ career-high 31 points on 12 made field goals. The junior slipped past the Red Flash defense with ease and drew several opportunities at the line off strong drives to the paint. Freshman forward Courtney Fredrickson poured in her career-high 18 points on the night, as the young Badger has already shown potential to become the knockdown shooter the Badgers desperately need. And the ever-consistent Avyanna Young earned a double-double through her physical dominance on the glass and in the paint, registering 15 boards and 17 points on the night.

Even with Young’s efforts on the boards, plus Fredrickson and McMorris’ high free throw percentage, the Badgers still squabbled the game. An alarming sign is that Wisconsin won both those categories, out-rebounding Saint Francis 61-42 and taking 36 shots at the line as opposed to 24 for the visitors.

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“It’s two games in the grand scheme of things,” said Tsipis. “There’s a lot of opportunities left on the floor.”

An opportunity to right the wrongs of the stinging loss Sunday comes Wednesday, as the Badgers take on Dayton (0-1) at the Kohl Center at 7 p.m.

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