The Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball defeated UW-Milwaukee Panthers 62-51 Tuesday at the Kohl Center to kick off their 50th season. The team sported new jerseys to celebrate 50 seasons, and each player had “legacy” written on the back of their new jerseys.
This is the second year in a row the Badgers have played the Panthers in their season opener. In 2022, the Badgers won 58-49. Against the Panthers overall, the Badgers are 9-3.
The Badgers are coming off an overall record of 11-20 and a 6-12 record against Big Ten teams last season. Milwaukee had an overall record of 11-19 and went 8-12 in the Horizon League.
Senior Brooke Schramek, sophomore Ronnie Porter, freshman D’Yanis Jimenez, senior Natalie Leuzinger and sophomore Serah Williams started for the Badgers.
Two free throws from Williams and a 3-pointer from Leuzinger gave the Badgers a strong start in the first quarter. The Badgers went 3-of-5 from the three-point line in the quarter, with one shot coming from Williams. Last season, Williams was 0-of-3 from the three-point line. To finish the quarter, Williams made a buzzer-beating layup, putting the Badgers up 20-9. Williams led all scorers with nine points going into the second quarter.
Sophomore Sania Copeland made two early 3-pointers in the second quarter. Copeland did not play in the exhibition game against UW-Whitewater, but she got her first minutes of the season Tuesday.
Almost halfway through the quarter, Williams went up for a block and came down hard on her back. She went to the locker room with 11 points for the Badgers, but she was able to come back into the game in the second quarter.
Despite the Badgers outscoring UW-Milwaukee, the Panthers dominated on offense. The Panthers led with eight offensive rebounds, while the Badgers totaled with four.
The Badgers were up 36-23 going into halftime. Williams led all scorers with 12 points. Copeland had eight points, and Jimenez had seven.
Williams scored off of an assist from Porter to start the third quarter. The Badgers were able to grab seven defensive rebounds, with Schramek totaling three in the quarter. Both teams had five fouls each in the third quarter. Wisconsin scored 12 points throughout the quarter, with the score at 48-33 going into the fourth quarter.
A layup from Copeland halfway through the fourth quarter gave the Badgers some much needed momentum. Leuzinger added to the scoring run off an assist from Jimenez.
The Panthers were on a 5-3 scoring run before a free throw from Williams helped the Badgers extend their lead. Late into the fourth quarter, UW-Milwaukee was able to bring the Badgers’ double-digit lead down to five points. The Badgers pulled away at the end of the quarter to win the game 62-51.
Williams led the Badgers in scoring with a double-double — 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jimenez scored 15 points and Copeland had 10 points. Porter and Williams led the team in steals, both collecting four each. Porter tied her career-high with seven points and earned a career-high seven rebounds and three assists.
Defeating UW-Milwaukee added to the Badgers season-opener win streak. They have won their last seven season opening games.
The Badgers return to the Kohl Center on Thursday, Nov. 6, to take on Western Illinois at 7 p.m.