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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Wisconsin edges out Northwestern, Michigan to end regular season play

The Badgers closed out their regular season with two Big Ten wins, ending the year with a three game winning streak.

The Wisconsin women’s basketball team (11-19, 6-12 Big Ten) and Northwestern (9-19, 2-15) battled it out to the very end until the Badgers pulled ahead 64-57 last Thursday night. 

Then Wisconsin traveled back to the Kohl Center to face No. 12 Michigan (21-8, 11-7) and honor the seniors for their last regular season matchup. With the support of the home crowd, Wisconsin upset Michigan 78-70 for the first time since 2014.

The Wisconsin women’s basketball team ended the regular season with a three game Big Ten win streak, their longest of the year, and also finished the year with their best conference record within the last 10 years.

Earlier this season, Wisconsin fell to Northwestern 70-67 in an upsetting final few minutes, but this time they were out for revenge.

Wisconsin’s Maty Wilke capped off the first quarter of the rematch with a 3-pointer to give the Badgers a five point advantage. Halfway through the second period, Wisconsin led by 13 points after Julie Pospisilova’s 3-pointer.

In the first half, Wisconsin shot 5-of-12 from behind the arc which helped them dominate early, but as seen throughout the season, Wisconsin has struggled to maintain their energy.

They let the Wildcats claw their way back to within one point with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. This was the only quarter of the game that Northwestern outscored Wisconsin. The Wildcats also capitalized off six fast break points.

In the fourth quarter, with two minutes and 35 seconds left, Northwestern’s Caroline Lau nailed a jumpshot to knot the game at 56.

There were a few turnovers and missed shots, until Wilke caught a pass from Pospisilova and downed a shot in the paint. With 48 seconds remaining in the game, the Badgers held a two point lead.

Northwestern missed a layup on the other end, which gave Wisconsin the ball back. Once again, Wilke drove in for a layup to give the Badgers a small four point cushion.

The Wildcats were forced to foul in order to stop the clock and Wisconsin hit every free throw. Wisconsin ended the game with a seven point lead, 64-57.

Wisconsin’s Pospisilova, Wilke, and Avery LaBarbera all recorded double digits and shot perfectly from the line.

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On Sunday afternoon, Wisconsin faced No. 12 Michigan for the first time this season.

Just in the first quarter, there were four ties and five lead changes. The period ended with the game tied at 18.

Michigan’s Maddie Nolan nailed a 3-pointer to begin the second quarter, before Wisconsin drove right back down the court, drawing a foul. William’s made both of her free throws and made her first block of the day on the other end. Pospisilova converted a shot from behind the arc to put Wisconsin up by two points.

The game was knotted at 30 with just over three minutes left in the first half. The teams went back-and-forth and in the final four seconds, Pospisilova converted a layup to end the half on top 36-35.

With just under two minutes left in the third quarter, the Badgers had the biggest lead of the game, 52-46.

In the fourth quarter, Wisconsin capitalized off Michigan’s turnovers. The Badgers recorded 10 points off turnovers and managed to hold the lead for the entire last period.

Michigan struggled on offense, shooting 7-for-17 from the field and only 1-of-5 from the 3-point line.

Wisconsin increased their lead to 11 when Sania Copeland hit her only shot of the day, which was a 3-pointer.

With less than three minutes remaining, the Wolverines cut the lead to four. As in their previous match, the end-of-game free throws were crucial.

In the remaining minute and 50 seconds, the Badgers made 12-of-14 free throws. LaBarbera made 5-of-6 from behind the line, while Wilke tacked on four more, Williams made one and Schramek made two.

Michigan’s efforts were not enough to come back at the end, and Wisconsin went on to win 78-70.

Julie Pospisilova led Wisconsin with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists. The senior hit 10-of-16 from the paint and 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

Wilke (15), Williams (14) and LaBarbera (12) also rounded out with double digits. LaBarbera also set a team-high eight rebounds.

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