Wisconsin's season ends with loss to Northwestern

Cayla McMorris's Wisconsin career concluded Wednesday with a loss to Northwestern.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

After a hard-fought close game, 13-seed Wisconsin (2-15 Big Ten, 9-21 overall) fell to 12-seed Northwestern (5-12, 12-19) by a score of 63-68 on Wednesday afternoon. Northwestern will now advance in the tournament and take on 5-seed Iowa on Thursday.

The Badgers trailed the Wildcats for the entirety of the game, with spurts of energy here and there. But, in the end, UW simply ran out of time.

“I'm just proud of that effort,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Just can't let it get to that point and have to fight back, especially against a team that is so well-coached that's going to be able to try to shorten the game on us.”

UW struggled to get points on the board for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter alone it scored 27 points, the most the team has scored in the fourth quarter all season. Wisconsin was down 61-52 with 3:36 remaining in the game when junior guard Roichelle Marble drained a three and brought some life back into the Badgers. After that play, the momentum was in UW’s favor and it went on to get two back-to-back steals and some free throws to bring the score to 61-56.

Wisconsin continued its fight and narrowed the score to merely 66-63 with 17 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately for UW, Northwestern was able to sink its free throws when fouled and it solidified the win.

Though UW was engaged in a rigorous upward battle for most of the matchup, it still managed to shutdown key Wildcats, such as junior Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah. However, with Kunaiyi-Akpanah out, freshman guard Lindsay Pulliam pulled the weight for the team, putting up 24 points.

“Yeah, she had a great first half, and she scored every single way possible,” Tsipis said. “She scored against the man, scored against the zone, scored off an out-of-bounds play. Even when we went to the junk defense, we let her touch it, and if you let her touch it, she's got a chance to score it.”

UW struggled on offense. Junior forward Marsh Howard who has had multiple 20-plus point games of late had a quiet game with 11 points. Wisconsin’s offensive leader of the game was senior guard Cayla McMorris who ended her last game as a Badger with 22 points and eight rebounds. McMorris fought hard for her points, scoring in a multitude of ways.

“I thought with Cayla, you hope with a senior, again, who didn't have her best game at Senior Day at Rutgers, goes down with such fight,” said Tsipis, “and I thought she did that today, and not just because she went straight to the rim. She had to fight through different defenses and continued, and I thought made a lot of the right decisions, played aggressively.”

Though this loss brought UW’s season to an end, hopefully the lessons it learned this time around will benefit it next season. Howard will most likely be the predominant team leader, as someone will need to fill the role of McMorris who finished her career as a Badger with a total of 1,074 points and 139 assists.

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