Wisconsin (1-7 Big Ten, 10-10 overall) dropped its straight game in a close contest with the Penn State Lady Lions (3-5 Big Ten, 10-9 overall), falling 65-59 to continue a slide that has undone the excitement of the season’s strong start.
The game started off very slow for the Badgers, who needed almost five minutes to put their first points on the scoreboard. The offense sputtered with bad passes, unnecessary forced shots and offensive fouls. Freshman forward Imani Lewis made the Badgers first basket, and sparked a 7-0 run that ended with a two-point lead.
As the quarter went on, both teams exchanged baskets, until Penn State finished the quarter with four straight points, including a buzzer beater to end the quarter with a 16-12 lead.
The second quarter proved to be a different ball game with more scoring on both ends. The quarter ended up becoming a game of runs, as both teams went on multiple scoring runs. Penn State started off with a seven-point run, followed by the Badgers scoring nine straight, but the quarter finished with the Lady Lions roaring back for ten straight to head into the locker room with a 38-31 lead.
Wisconsin shot an effective thee-for-five from the three point line in the first half, however they missed four of their 10 free throws. For one of the first times this year, head coach Jonathan Tsipis had his team run a 3-2 defensive zone. The zone disrupted the Penn State offense, and the Badgers finished the half with a 16 points off turnovers, their best mark of the season for a half.
Coming out of the half Lewis came out strong with a steal, offensive rebound and assist on the first points of the third. Following the hot start, nothing went the Badgers way as senior forward Marsha Howard missed three of her four foul shots, which helped the Lady Lions go on a run and grab a 10-point lead. With the Badgers slowly losing hope, junior forward Abby Laszewski stepped up, scoring eight straight points and bringing Wisconsin to within one basket. As the game got closer and closer, foul trouble became more of a problem for the Badgers with three starters combining for eight fouls.
The Badgers started off the fourth quarter very slow, missing an open layup and turning the ball over twice on sloppy offensive possessions. Wisconsin was able to turn it around in a late fourth quarter run thanks to Howard and Lewis coming alive, cutting the deficit to one possession with 40 seconds left. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the Lady Lions were able to finish out the game strong, as they made two free throws to take a five point lead with 12 seconds left, before sealing the final 65-59 score.