Freshmen star as Wisconsin takes down North Florida in season opener

Wisconsin played a tough game to start the season Tuesday, but ultimately won thanks to the performance of a few freshmen.

Wisconsin played a tough game to start the season Tuesday, but ultimately won thanks to the performance of a few freshmen.

Image By: Jon Yoon

Coming off a promising exhibition win last Wednesday, the Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) continued their success in a season opening win against the North Florida Ospreys (0-1) on Tuesday.  

The Ospreys didn’t let the Badgers off easy, testing them in a fourth quarter comeback. 

Wisconsin pulled through, though, with significant contributions from freshman Julie Pospisilova and senior Kendra Van Leeuwen, who both put up 14 points, to go with senior Abby Laszewski’s 10 rebounds. Freshman Sydney Hillard brought significant contributions of her own with 11 points, five rebounds, and two assists. 

North Florida brought many players to watch, presenting strong competition to start off the season. Sophomore Tiffany Tolbert came back for the first game since her season ending injury last November with 20 points and three assists. Senior Janesha Green wasn’t far behind with 16 points of her own, and junior Jazz Bond took hold of the ball with nine rebounds. 

Despite the competition, Wisconsin held a consistent lead throughout — starting the night with a Pospisilova jump shot in the first minute of the game. She continued to dominate the first period with seven out of the first 20 points the Badgers scored. North Florida kept that lead small, though, knocking down free throws early, and adding a steady barrage three pointers by Jackson, and juniors Alexis Gordon and Rhetta Moore.

North Florida owned the free throw line in the second quarter, with Green and Tolbert sinking all their attempts. Regardless, Wisconsin gained a comfortable lead in the first two minutes of the first and held onto it, going into halftime with an eight point lead.

The freshman Badgers kept it fresh on the hardwood, with Pospisilova’s seven second half points and Hillard’s three in the third quarter. 

About four minutes into the fourth, North Florida’s Tolbert and Bond scored back-to-back three pointers, shortly followed by Jackson’s field goal making the score 61-57 - narrowing the point difference to only four. The Badgers remained resilient, especially with Van Leeuwin dominating with eight points in that final stretch. Wisconsin was able to pull through the challenge, finishing the game with a 13 point lead in their first regular season game. 

Wisconsin’s season-opening win proved motivating, with Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis looking forward to what’s ahead as the team was able to finish the game despite its tests.

“Everybody wants to have 30-point blowouts, but how we react to the game setting no matter (the) situation,” Tsipis said, “(the win) is able to give us more confidence moving forward.”

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