Going into the second match with the Purdue Boilermakers (7-7 Big Ten, 16-10 overall) this season, the Wisconsin Badgers (3-11 Big Ten, 11-14 overall) were looking to prevent the season sweep — one Purdue hasn’t pulled off against Wisconsin since 2009.
Unfortunately for the Badgers, Purdue pulled through with a three-pointer by senior Dominique Oden with 12 seconds left in the game, finishing the night at the Kohl Center with a 62-59 win.
Sophomore Imani Lewis led the Badgers in scoring with 14 points, her 15th straight game scoring double digits. Senior Abby Lazewski followed in scoring with 11 points, not quite nearing the career-highs she set in the past two games — as she tied her previous 25-point high against Minnesota on Feb. 26, then broke it against Ohio State with her newest high of 26 points on Sunday.
The Badgers had a promising start against the Boilermakers in the first quarter, keeping up well in a neck-and-neck first half. Freshman Julie Popisilova finished off the quarter with a statement, scoring a three to cut Purdue’s lead to 14-11.
At half, Wisconsin trailed by just one point, 27-26.
After a short lag by the Badgers in the last minutes of the third quarter, in the final quarter the heat picked up — both teams fought intensely, which resulted in a tie on four different occasions.
With eight minutes left in the game, junior Niya Beverly made a three-point jumper to tie the game at 50. It was the first time Wisconsin had caught up to Purdue since there was five minutes left in the third quarter; they were back in it. Lewis broke the tie with a layup with six minutes left.
However, it wasn’t long though before Purdue senior Ae’rianna Harris, part of the team’s “Big Three,” brought the game to another tie with five minutes left.
Then, Pospisilova responded with her second three of the game, securing the Badgers a lead 55 to 54.
After a couple more three’s and a layup by Lewis, the Badgers were down 57-59. On the Badgers trip down the floor, Lewis was able to draw a foul, and sunk two free throws to tie the game at 59-59 with 38 seconds left.
But, the Badgers gave Purdue too much time at the end of the game, and Oden nailed a three with 12 seconds left, to put the Boilermakers up 62-59.
It left the Badgers with one more chance.
Purdue’s defense crowded Wisconsin senior Suzanne Gilreath as she came down the floor, but she was able to sneak a pass to senior Kendra Van Leeuwen, who made the last second three-point attempt, but just missed it at the buzzer.
“You always hope there’s a chance when you shoot the shot,” Van Leeuwen said. “But they did a great job guarding and Suzanne worked really hard to try to get open. We did end up getting a shot off and I think that’s all we can ask for.”
Leeuwen reiterated this sense of positivity in their efforts, knowing the team is full of “competitors,” and always showing it on the court.
“I think we’re going to take what we learned from this game and we’re going to move forward,” she said. “We’re just going to keep pushing.”
Upholding the same attitude, Lewis emphasized the importance of Wisconsin keeping their heads up.
“I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” Lewis said. “We should be upset with the loss, but we have to move on because we can’t change the past.”
“The only thing I’m going to do is keep my head held high, stay positive and tell them we’ve got this, we’re right there. The worst thing you can do is hang your head because that doesn’t solve anything.”
The team is going to carry this sense of positivity and determination into their next match against No. 17 Iowa on Sunday, tip off is at 2 p.m..