Women’s basketball

Fourth-quarter surge leads Badgers to win over Pitt in Music City

Senior forward Marsha Howard became the 26th Badger to reach 1000 points, but her ultimate goal is an NIT appearance for Wisconsin.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The Wisconsin Badgers (0-0 Big Ten, 5-0 overall) improved to 5-0 and continued their impressive start to the season with a 57-42 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers (0-0 ACC, 2-4 overall) in their first of three games in the Challenge for Music City tournament.

Wisconsin struggled early on in the game as the team had difficulty adjusting to the new court. Apparently, the team was not permitted to have any practices there and was only allowed to use it during pregame warmups. This awkwardness was apparent in several traveling calls, passes thrown out of bounds and many forced shots, especially by senior forward Marsha Howard. The epitome of the first quarter frustration was four missed free throws in the final 20 seconds, which left the Badgers trailing 12-10.

The second quarter got off to a promising start as UW-Green Bay transfer sophomore Alex Luehring sank the team’s first three-pointer and free throw to open play. However, Pittsburgh senior Danielle Garven’s stellar free throw-shooting and the aggressive play of the defense led to the Badgers eking out a narrow 22-21 lead at halftime.

Both teams continued their sluggish way after the half as there was foul after foul in the third quarter. Amidst the sloppy play, Garven was able to emerge with more steady shooting at the line and a few crucial mid-range connections to advance Pittsburgh to a 32-24 lead with a little over four minutes left to play in the third. The Wisconsin offense wasn’t helping either as the unit, despite at one point having three offensive rebounds in one possession, was unable to find the basket more often than not.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis called a timeout in order to set his players straight. It appeared to be the fix as junior Suzanne Gilreath swung momentum back Wisconsin’s way with a clutch three pointer. Howard capitalized on this with a pair of layups to knot it all up at 34.

After a close three quarters of play, the fourth was almost all Wisconsin. After Garven fired a pair of free throws and Howard gave up an “and one,” the Badgers began the rout as freshman Imani Lewis scored seven straight to bring her team up to a 43-39 lead and Pittsburgh’s sophomore Kyla Nelson was injured in the process. Lewis’ dominance opened things up as junior Kendra Van Leeuwen was able to take advantage of a flustered Panthers defense to sink an easy layup. Wisconsin would take advantage of the error-prone Panthers with surprisingly clutch free throw-shooting near the end the game, making seven of their last eight shots. After a few fruitless possessions by Pittsburgh and a few time-wasting possessions by Wisconsin, the clock wound down to seal the Badgers 57-42 victory, extending their season-opening winning streak to five games.

The Badgers hope to continue their winning ways against the winless Tennessee State Tigers.

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