The Wisconsin Badgers faced a tough loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, losing 67-70 in the last five minutes of Sunday’s women’s basketball game.
However, history was made at the Kohl Center when Theresa Huff became the first UW Athletics female honoree. Huff’s jersey — No. 21 — was officially retired and displayed high up in the rafters. Huff played on the Wisconsin team from 1979-83 and is the only member of the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound club on the women’s side.
Additionally, it was National Girls & Women in Sports Day, marked by a season-high crowd of 8,217 fans supporting the Badgers.
Wisconsin’s Serah Williams scored the first points of the game after she made an offensive rebound and put the ball back up for two while drawing an and-one.
It was great momentum for the Badger team that continued to dominate in the first quarter. They hit four of four in the paint to take an early 13-0 lead with the help of Julie Pospisilova, Brooke Schramek, Avery LaBarbera and Williams.
Northwestern Head Coach Joe McKeown called a time out to refocus his team and make substitutions.
Coming out of the timeout, Wildcat Paige Mott drove to the basket and drew two fouls, making both of her shots and putting points on the board for the Wildcats. In their next offensive possession, Mott handled the ball again and made her layup.
The Badgers began to play sloppy basketball, committing multiple turnovers and allowing Northwestern to slowly come back, 15-12.
Redshirt freshman Maty Wilke put up a clutch 3-pointer to bring Wisconsin’s lead back to six.
Wisconsin came off the bench in the second quarter, using their energy to outplay Northwestern.
Each starter was able to contribute on offense which gave Wisconsin a double digit lead. Williams made two free throws, followed by a Pospisilova fastbreak-jumper off of Williams' defensive rebound.
Northwestern was then able to draw a shooting foul, but Schramek responded with a layup, making the score 26-17.
With a few more fastbreaks and a three-pointer, Wisconsin increased their lead to 16.
Toward the end of the first half, Northwestern stepped up their defense, beginning to force turnovers. They capitalized off the Badgers errors and made baskets in the paint.
Starting the second half, the Wildcats went on a 15-0 run to quickly tie the game at 41, then continued to increase their lead.
The third quarter saw three ties and three lead changes as the Badgers and Wildcats battled it out. Points off turnovers proved decisive in this quarter, as Northwestern scored 13 points compared to Wisconsin’s two. The Wildcats applied pressure and the Badgers collapsed.
Williams started the fourth quarter off with a jumper, but Mott countered with a layup. The game went back-and-forth.
Pospisilova missed a crucial layup early on, and the Wildcats’ Sydney Wood hit a three-pointer to bring the score within two. Assisted by LaBarbera, Wilke downed a three. But, unfortunately for Wisconsin, they fell apart in the final five minutes of the game.
Critical errors were made over and over again on the Badgers’ part. It began with Williams missing a layup, LaBarbera turning the ball over and then Williams missed both of her free throws. Wilke made a great defensive play and was able to steal the ball but then was unable to capitalize on a missed layup.
Caroline Lau nailed a three-pointer for Northwestern, giving them a two point lead with only two minutes remaining.
Wisconsin Head Coach Marisa Moseley called a timeout so she could slow down the play and talk to her team.
Wisconsin was unable to get anything done on their end, and with the ball back in Northwestern's hands, they ran time off the clock trying to hold on to their two point lead.
With just nine seconds remaining in the game, LaBarbera got fouled and went to the line. She made the first free throw, but was unable to down the second one. The Badgers were still down by one point.
Wisconsin fouled on purpose to stop the clock, but Northwestern made both of their free throws.
LaBarbera was given the ball with less than five seconds remaining but could ultimately not make the clutch shot.
With the heartbreaking loss for Wisconsin on home turf, they fell to 2-8 in the conference, but Northwestern was able to pick up their first conference win of the season. Both teams are at the bottom of the Big Ten conference.
Williams was the key player for the Badgers as she scored double digits for the fifth game in a row, leading the team with 21 points (8-13 FG) and seven rebounds. Mott carried Northwestern with a total of 23 points and nine rebounds.
Straight from the court, Wisconsin Head Coach Marisa Moseley said in an athletics statement, "Obviously not the outcome we wanted, but we just have to continue to move forward and clean up our turnovers, and there were some opportunities there to make winning players and we came up a little short."
Northwestern will continue their away stretch traveling to University Park to take on Penn State Thursday. Wisconsin has their third consecutive home game on Wednesday facing Ohio State at the Kohl Center at 1 p.m.