After a short run of conference success, Wisconsin (4-12 Big Ten, 13-15 overall) fell in an underwhelming 73-53 road loss to Rutgers (11-5 Big Ten, 19-8 overall) Monday night.
Rutgers started the game strong and took the lead from the beginning. The Scarlet Knights' freshman guard Noga Peleg Pelc dominated the first quarter with seven of Rutgers’ 17 points. The Badgers were led by freshman forward Imani Lewis and senior forward Marsha Howard, each with four points. Wisconsin was able to snag the lead for a few minutes in the first quarter, but that would prove to be the only time it led the entire game.
At the start of the second quarter, Rutgers continued on its scoring streak with ease. Arella Guirantes heated up after a quiet first quarter and contributed a few points to Rutgers’ lead, while Howard worked hard to keep the Badgers in the game. Freshman guard Jasmine Hale was thrown into the rotation in the first and second quarter, putting up four points for the team. The Scarlet Knights outscored the Badgers 21 to 11 in the second quarter and finished the first half with a comfortable 40-23 lead.
Howard started the third quarter with a quick layup and a shot from the free-throw line, hoping to get the Badgers rolling, but she couldn’t pull the momentum away from the Scarlet Knights. Guirantes snapped Rutgers’ three-minute dry spell with two consecutive layups to get the Scarlet Knights back on track.
Rutgers entered the final quarter of the game with a 23-point cushion over the Badgers, and kept a 20-point lead at the end. Lewis fought her way into the paint, drawing some fouls and sinking a couple easy points from the line. Rutgers’ sophomore forward Tekia Mack was another player who contributed significantly on the offense end when she was subbed in for Guirantes. Despite an apparent lack of energy in the final quarter for the Badgers, Howard’s effort remained present as she knocked down a three-pointer with five minutes remaining. Consequently, Wisconsin was unable to make a substantial dent in its deficit and fell by 20 points.
Overall, it was not a successful shooting night for the Badgers. The team went two for 11 from behind the arc, with both threes coming in the final quarter. At the other end of the court, Rutgers was able to knock down six key three-pointers, a pair of which came from Mack. Additionally, Wisconsin struggled against Rutgers in the paint and was out-rebounded 41-30, a change from Wisconsin’s recent control in that category.
Aside from being stuck in an offensive rut, the team also had trouble taking care of the ball. Wisconsin committed 24 turnovers total, which translated into 30 points for the Scarlet Knights. Lewis and Howard were the two main leaders of this game, scoring 18 and 16 points respectively. The next closest scorer was junior forward Abby Laszewski with six. Mack led Rutgers with 17 points and seven rebounds, followed by Guirantes with 13 and Pelc with nine points.
The Badgers will have to shake this loss off quickly as they turn around and prepare to host Ohio State at home on Thursday for senior night.