The uninspired and unintimidating first-half play that has plagued the Badgers all season continued yet again Wednesday night. The Badgers (0-7 Big Ten, 5-15 overall) dropped their seventh-straight game in Big Ten play, this time falling to Michigan State (4-4, 14-7) at the Kohl Center, 81-57.
After the Badgers fumbled away an early lead, they found themselves trailing by seven after the first quarter of play. MSU’s lead ballooned to 16 after halftime, and only then did the Badgers finally start to dig into the lead in the third.
But the fourth quarter was the same old lackadaisical play for the Badgers, who were ultimately outscored by seven points to drop the game by a 24-point margin.
“Our team just had a really, really poor level of any kind of consistent effort or intensity throughout the game,” heach coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
Senior guard Tori Jankoska––who recently became Michigan State’s all-time leading scorer––scored a modest 11 points, well off her 22.4 average on the year, but made her presence felt with 11 rebounds and five assists. But the star for the Spartans was redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee, who dropped 18 points, that buried the Badgers with timely 3-pointers to thwart any threat of a comeback.
“Jankoska’s just tough, she’s a tough kid,” said Tsipis. “She’s just playing on one leg right now, and she’s still guarding.”
Freshman guard Kendra Van Leeuwen had her best offensive game of the season, with three 3-pointers and a career-high 12 points. Redshirt sophomore guard Ashley Kelsick didn't register a point, but fed her teammates all night, racking up five assists on the night.
Junior guard Cayla McMorris, who has seen her scoring average drop from 15.7 at winter break to 12.9, was absent when the Badgers needed a big play from their primary scorer.
“She’s got to stay on the floor. She gets two offensive fouls in the first … you can’t play this game worried about the next foul that might get called on you,” said Tsipis. “This game is too difficult to try and play scared.”
“When you get this far into the Big Ten season, [it’s disappointing] to not have more pride on your own home floor, and take advantage of that.”
Next up, the Badgers host the Indiana Hoosiers at the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon.