Wisconsin falls to in-state rival Marquette 74-69 in overtime

Senior forward Ethan Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Wisconsin staged a second-half comeback to extend its winning streak to five games.

Senior forward Ethan Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Wisconsin staged a second-half comeback to extend its winning streak to five games.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Every season it seems, Wisconsin suffers several self-inflicted losses. Missing free throws, failing to convert open looks and committing needless turnovers tend to be the primary culprits. Such a performance struck Saturday at the worst possible time: on the road against in-state foe Marquette.

Despite a strong defensive performance and a bravura performance from senior center Ethan Happ, the No. 12 Badgers (2-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) fell to Marquette (0-0 Big East, 8-2 overall) 74-69 in overtime. Happ notched 34 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, a block and three steals in perhaps his best showing of the year. But Marquette guard Markus Howard, despite a 7-of-29 day shooting from the field, made 11 of his 13 free-throw attempts and put the game away.

The Badgers, on the other hand, managed an abysmal 10-for-21 from the free-throw line and 5-for-24 from three-point range. They shot 51 percent from the field as a team, but could not find their groove. Senior guard Khalil Iverson turned the ball over four times and scored only four points. Sophomore guard Brad Davison scored zero points and had four personal fouls. Junior guard Brevin Pritzl was also held scoreless.

A first half in which both teams struggled ended with the Badgers leading 33-32. Wisconsin committed four turnovers in its first five possessions and missed five of its first six shots from three-point range. Marquette, on the other hand, shot only 11-31 (35 percent) from the field in the first period.

It was the Golden Eagles, however, who made the necessary adjustments down the stretch. As the Badgers continued to flail, they hit big shots and converted on their free throws.

After calling only seven fouls in the first half, the referees found their whistles and used them liberally down the stretch. Between the second half and overtime, they called an eye-opening 32 foul — a shift that had significant implications for the final outcome, as it made the free-throw shooting discrepancy all the more stark.

The Badgers failed to live up to expectations in the most hostile atmosphere they’ve played in all year. The Marquette student section execrated the Badgers with chants from the first tip, and stayed loud all game. In a perhaps superfluous show of celebration, confetti cascaded down from the ceiling and “Jump Around” blared after the final buzzer. As the festivities began, the Badgers had no choice but to wonder, “What if?” They’ll hope that the next time they see confetti, they’ll have more cause for a party of their own. 

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