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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Happ MSU

Ethan Happ and the Badgers came up three points short of Michigan State on Friday. 

Wisconsin comes up just short against Michigan State, falls in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals

NEW YORK — As Brad Davison’s game-tying 3-point attempt fell inches short of the front of the rim at the buzzer, he dropped his hands to his knees. Despite his best effort to close the game, the Badgers (8-12 Big Ten, 15-18 overall) couldn’t squeak past the top-seeded Michigan State Spartans (17-2, 29-3), as they ran out of gas at Madison Square Garden, falling 63-60 in the quarterfinal of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Spartans had no trouble scoring inside early, as they hit four layups in their first seven possessions of the game. The Badgers hung with them to start the game, though, working their way into the paint repeatedly in the face of MSU’s three-headed frontcourt monster.

As UW struggled to contain Spartan superstar Miles Bridges, head coach Greg Gard tinkered with a variety of matchups. Junior forward Khalil Iverson opened up the afternoon guarding Bridges, as expected, but when he went to the bench for a breath, Gard sent junior forward Charles Thomas to try his luck.

It didn’t work, as Thomas quickly fouled Bridges, who finished his layup through the contact and earned an old-fashioned 3-point play with 17:06 to play. The next option was redshirt freshman forward Aleem Ford, who had mild success, but only Iverson was fully a match for the NBA lottery pick.

Trailing by two with 11:35 left in the first half, Joshua Langford tossed the ball off redshirt sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl’s leg and Brad Davison came up with the ball. The freshman took the ball up the court and lofted a pass to the rim that Iverson corralled and hammered home with a filthy two-handed reverse that brought the Garden to life.

Iverson’s dunk sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Badgers a four-point lead with under nine minutes to play, as MSU turned the ball over on three-of-four possessions.

Still leading by four, 20-16 with 7:46 to go before halftime, redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ picked up a critical second foul and would sit for the remainder of the period. Freshman forward Nate Reuvers took most of his minutes, and an open two-handed dunk stretched UW’s lead to three with 3:52 left in the half.

Davison joined the two-foul club on the ensuing possession, and with him and Happ both on the bench, an 8-0 Spartan burst gave them a 32-28 lead heading into the locker room

Jaren Jackson Jr. registered a third foul just one minute into the second half, sending him to the bench. Without their defensive anchor on the inside, the Spartans were forced to collapse more on the inside, leaving space on the perimeter. Ford took full advantage, nailing back-to-back threes to knot the game in the midst of a 10-0 run that gave UW a 42-38 lead with 14:21 left in the game.

Not the be outdone, MSU answered with a 7-0 run of its own with Jackson still sidelined. Much of the damage was done by Bridges, who was firing on all cylinders from everywhere on the court. He would finish the afternoon with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Jackson returned to the floor at the 6:43 mark and his impact was immediately evident. He finished a difficult and-1 to extend the Spartan lead to five and promptly poked the ball away from Happ on the next possession as Matt McQuaid made it a seven-point contest with 5:00 to play.

Refusing to fade, Happ came right back at Jackson and scored on consecutive possessions, including a huge and-1 that brought the Garden to life. His free throw cut the deficit to two with 3:41 remaining, 58-56.

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With a hair under two minutes to play, Happ powered past Jackson and earned a trip to the line. More importantly, he earned Jackson a trip to the bench for the remainder of the game as he fouled out. Happ whiffed on the front end of a 1-and-1, though, and the lead remained at two.

Matt McQuaid subsequently buried a three from the left wing that could have all but ended the contest with 1:29 to go and a 63-58 Spartan lead.

But Davison wasn’t ready for his rookie season to come to a close just yet. He burst through the MSU defense for a quick reverse layup that pulled UW within three, and the front end of Bridges’ 1-and-1 rimmed out to give the Badgers one last shot to keep their season alive.

Davison’s desperation three fell short, along with UW’s Big Ten Tournament run.

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