Women's basketball

Badgers post season highs for scoring, margin of victory in dominant win over Chicago State

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

Wisconsin (0-0 Big Ten, 8-3 overall) rolled to a breezy 85-38 victory over the still-winless Chicago State Cougars (0-0 WAC, 0-9) Wednesday night. The Badgers strengthened their all-time record against Chicago State to 7-0 in the two teams’ first matchup in over 26 years.

After a sluggish start where the Badgers missed several high-percentage shots, junior guard Kendra Van Leeuwen sank a rare three that would trigger their most emphatic first quarter performance so far this year. Surprisingly stellar free throw shooting, boosted by head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ heavy focus in recent practices, and Alex Luehring’s sophomore spark beyond the arc propelled the Badgers to a season-high 29 points in the first quarter. The only negative for Wisconsin in the first 10 minutes came when sophomore guard Niyah Beverley left the game two minutes in due to lower body pain.

In the second Chicago State found what little success it could at the line, scoring four of its mere seven points in the quarter from the charity stripe. Wisconsin’s success continued after a brief stint in which its possessions looked chaotic as players scrambled after loose balls and shots were flung rather than fired. 

Tsipis responded by turning to his bench, as junior forward Abby Laszewski, sophomore forward Grace Mueller and freshman guard Diamond Bragg were all featured heavily. Laszewski’s rebounding, Mueller’s scoring and Bragg’s much-improved passing helped gave the starters a comfortable rest and marked another step in the development of the Badgers’ ever-improving bench. The Badgers capped the half with a buzzer-beater by senior guard Kelly Karlis that sent them to the half up 50-20.

In the third quarter Cougars freshman Courtney Crane got the ball rolling with a wild circus shot. However, aside from a few more layups, Wisconsin continued to dominate on both ends of the court. Three-point specialist Alex Luehring hit a couple of rare two-pointers while Laszewski’s rebounding allowed the Badgers to turn to the end of their bench to protect the comfortable lead.  Sophomore forward Kara Crowley proved her value in her first extended minutes of the season by poking the ball out on the defensive end and draining a three-pointer to extend the lead to 37 points as the curtain was drawn on the third quarter.

Freshman Imani Lewis led off the final quarter with an and-one. From there, Crowley, Mueller and freshman forward Sydney Mathiason padded the lead thanks to well-timed passes, consistent free-throw shooting and a relentless spirit.

The final buzzer sounded with the Badgers posting season-highs in scoring and margin of victory, powered by an impressively balanced scoring attack which featured five players scoring double digits and all of the players on the roster on the scoreboard, save the injured Beverley. After a week’s worth of rest, Wisconsin will play the Evansville Purple Aces next Friday to wrap up non-conference play as it prepares for the rigorous test of Big Ten play.

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