On Jan. 19, the Badgers (0-10 Big Ten, 5-18 overall) marched into Columbus to face off against then-No. 16 Ohio State (11-1, 21-5) and escaped with a just a nine-point loss. Sunday brought a different story for Wisconsin.
Led by junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, the No. 14 Buckeyes came to the Kohl Center and left with a 96-68 victory in their pockets.
“You have to give them credit,” Wisconsin head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “They were very unselfish. I thought they had great rhythm offensively … but we have to be better.”
The game was all Ohio State from the very start. It was tied for just 52 seconds before OSU got on the board and maintained a lead the entire game.
Mitchell had total control over the young Wisconsin defense as soon as she stepped foot on the floor. After a 17-point first quarter in which she outscored the entire UW team, Mitchell went on to record 32 points, one rebound and four assists.
”I’ve seen a lot of great players,” Tsipis said of Mitchell. “She’s one of the best scorers I’ve ever seen in the women’s college game.”
By the end of the first half, Mitchell had already surpassed her season average of 22.8 points per game.
Also active in the victory was redshirt junior forward Stephanie Mavunga, who ended Sunday’s contest with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Tori McCoy added 11 points and eight rebounds of her own.
The Badgers’ two high points both came in the first quarter when redshirt senior forward Avyanna Young ended a four-minute scoring drought with the team’s first points and freshman guard Suzanne Gilreath postponed a blowout by sinking two 3-pointers.
Leading UW in the scoring column was Gilreath, who finished with 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three. Junior guard Cayla McMorris also recorded 14 points, but failed to make a shot from the field. Every one of McMorris’ points came from the free throw line, where she went 14-of-14.
The Badgers were able to keep up with Ohio State in the rebound column and end with a higher free throw percentage, but were dominated in nearly every other category. They gave the ball up 11 times but scored a blistering 31 points off of UW’s 19 turnovers. OSU also ended with 19 second-chance points and 47 percent from the floor, while the Badgers shot just 27 percent.
While the loss brings UW’s losing streak to 10 games, Tsipis doesn’t want the Badgers’ record to distract them from trying to win games.
“I don’t pay attention to that. My job as the coach is for us to improve the team,” Tsipis said. “As much as we’d love to have a win … we have to be better to win games in the Big Ten.”
The Badgers return to the Kohl Center this Thursday to welcome in Nebraska. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.