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Friday, February 23, 2024

Idaho State outplays Wisconsin in second half as Badgers fall

In what ended up being a sloppy, low scoring night for both teams, the Bengals of Idaho State came out on top Tuesday night in Wisconsin’s return to the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin (3-7) dropped game one of a three game home stand Tuesday night by a score of 42-35 to Idaho State (3-5).

The Badgers had the advantage when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first quarter, outscoring the Bengals 13-10, which would be the only quarter they had the scoring advantage.

Redshirt senior Kendall Shaw, who has started all but two games this season, saw a total of three minutes in Tuesday’s contest. Freshman guard Estefania Ors of Idaho State, who leads the team in scoring, sat the entire first quarter and ended the night with 0 points in 18 minutes played.

Turnovers proved to be an issue for the young Badger squad once again. Wisconsin ended the night with 24 total turnovers, each Badger giving the ball up at least once, three more than Idaho State’s 21.

“If everybody can cut those [turnovers] down you give yourself a chance,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

Redshirt sophomore guard Grace Kenyon was the offensive weapon Wisconsin thought she would be, leading the Bengals in scoring at the end of the night with 10 points, six of those coming in the first quarter.

After a slow start to the second quarter, freshman guard Suzanne Gilreath put some life back into the Kohl Center with a three-pointer, her second basket of the game.

“The entire night we could never get going in transition,” Tsipis said. “We need to do a better job of working on that in practice.”

As the third quarter was winding down, Gilreath attempted another three, which rimmed out and was rebounded by Idaho State, allowing it to call a timeout with 31 seconds left.

Exiting the timeout the Bengals attempted their set play, to no avail, and the half ended with the advantage in Wisconsin’s favor, 21-19.

The second half of Tuesday’s match brought multiple scoring droughts on both sides. Idaho State did not score from 1:30 left in the second quarter to 5:42 left in the third, when redshirt freshman forward Sai Tapasa was sent to the line, connecting on both of her free throws.

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All of the Badgers’ points in the third quarter came off of free throws, as they were outscored 9-8.

“When a kid takes a shot she has to believe it’s going to go in,” Tsipis said. “When you have any doubt, it’s a disservice to your teammates.”

A pivotal moment came when Kenyon sat the majority of the third quarter due to foul trouble, which led to Wisconsin slightly letting up on defense.

That let up allowed Idaho State right back into the game. The Bengals climbed back from down seven, Wisconsin’s largest lead of the night, to head into the fourth quarter down by only one, 29-28.

Exiting the third quarter both teams were sitting with 17 turnovers.

“We threw it in places that maybe looked open one-on-one, but the help side defense was sitting all over it,” Tsipis said.

Freshman forward Courtney Fredrickson started the scoring for Wisconsin in the fourth quarter, driving and finishing in the lane 32 seconds in. But Wisconsin would not score again until 2:29 was left on the clock, courtesy of an Avyanna Young free throw.

Kenyon struck again in the fourth for the Bengals after sitting the majority of the third quarter, connecting on a baseline layup and giving Idaho State a 32-31 lead. But With 3:32 left in the quarter, Kenyon fouled out, ending her night with 10 points and two rebounds.

Wisconsin found itself down by its largest margin of the night, six points, with a minute left to play. The Badgers needed someone to keep their hopes alive and that call was answered by freshman guard Kendra Van Leeuwen.

Van Leeuwen knocked down a three with 43 seconds left to bring Wisconsin within three points.

Immediately after the big three, junior guard Cayla McMorris stole the inbound pass from Idaho State and was driving the lane with a chance to bring the lead within one. But Avyanna Young was called for a foul while attempting to block the defender from reaching McMorris and the Idaho State lead remained at three.

After a foul by Wisconsin, sophomore guard Saylair Grandon of Idaho State was sent to the line, knocking down both of her free throws, extending the lead to five, and forcing Wisconsin to call a timeout.

The timeout ended up being unhelpful as Wisconsin was unable to get another shot in. The final buzzer eventually sounded and Wisconsin was on the losing end, 42-35.

“We just have to play harder,” redshirt junior center Malayna Johnson said. “I was just trying to play for my team, but we need everybody to come together.”

Young and Johnson led the way for the Badgers, both contributing eight points. Johnson also added three rebounds and two blocks.

Van Leeuwen added three points of her own, while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out two assists.

Wisconsin ended the night shooting just 25 percent from the field and 59 percent from the free throw line and were outrebounded 40-37.

“We’ve talked all season about getting better game to game, practice to practice, but we took a step back tonight,” Tsipis said.

The Badgers will take the court again this Thursday, hosting Mississippi Valley State University. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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