The Badgers (1-1 Big Ten, 10-4 overall) came away with their first conference win of the season, winning 76-69 over the Purdue Boilermakers (1-1 Big Ten, 10-5 overall) thanks to a huge third quarter run led by junior guard Suzanne Gilreath.
The last game of 2018 was tight throughout, and Wisconsin held a 16-13 lead after the first quarter. Senior guard Kelly Karlis dominated the first period having scored or assisted on over half the Badgers points.
Wisconsin finished the first half strong as they were up 34-31 at the half. The Badgers were patient on offense, and their backcourt of junior guard Kendra Van Leeuwen and sophomore guard Niya Beverley finished the half with excellent assists.
While Wisconsin was led by Kelly Karlis, Purdue was carried by sophomore guards Karissa McLaughlin and Tamara Farquhar. McLaughlin and Farquhar combined for 16 points and 4 assists. Missed shots ended up being the difference, as Purdue struggled from three-point range, missing 8 three-pointers.
The Badgers came out of the locker room in the second half ready to take over. From the start of the third quarter, they pulled away to a 10-point lead, led by Kelly Karlis and freshman forward Imani Lewis. Gilreath and Karlis combined for 11 points in a span of a little over a minute, as they made three three-pointers and a deep jumper. At that point the Badgers had a 53-36 lead over the Boilermakers.
Purdue mounted a comeback as junior forward Ae’Rianna Harris scored 10 straight points for her team to finish out the third quarter down 61-46. The Boilermakers continued fighting in the fourth quarter, as they went on a 19-4 run with four minutes left in the game. The run trimmed Wisconsin’s lead to 6.
With Purdue on the verge of a huge comeback, the Badgers stuck to their game plan, made their free throws, and were able to get away with the victory. Karlis stated the team kept each other motivated during Wisconsin’s scoring drought, which helped lead to the victory.
This is a big win for Wisconsin as its their first conference win, and their offensive performance was promising against a solid Purdue team. The Badgers will look to continue their momentum as they play at Penn State (0-1 Big Ten, 7-5 overall) on January 3.