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Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Billikens end Badgers’ postseason play

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team fell to the Saint Louis Billikens in the WNIT Great Eight.

The Saint Louis Billikens outlasted the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team 65-60 Monday night at the Kohl Center to end Wisconsin’s run for the WNIT championship.

Including their postseason games, the Badgers sat at a 15-16 record, 6-12 in the Big Ten entering the final matchup of the season. The Billikens had a 19-18 record, 9-9 in the Atlantic 10 conference.

Senior Brooke Schramek, sophomore Ronnie Porter, sophomore Sania Copeland, senior Natalie Leuzinger and sophomore Serah Williams started for the Badgers.

Less than a minute into the game, Williams got a good look for a shot but landed awkwardly and suffered an early injury. She was unable to return to the game.

With the Badgers’ leading scorer gone, Saint Louis quickly created an 8-0 lead.

Senior Halle Douglass replaced Williams and eventually started scoring for the Badgers. But Wisconsin struggled with offensive rebounds in Williams’ absence, totaling only one in the first quarter.

The Billikens’ four steals in the quarter helped them maintain a 17-13 lead entering the second quarter, where Saint Louis continued to increase its lead. Despite the Badgers increasing their scoring efforts, they were continuously out-rebounded on both ends of the court.

Wisconsin cut the lead to one point before Saint Louis increased their lead by double digits later in the quarter.

With less than three minutes left in the quarter, Copeland took a shot to the face and exited the game. Wisconsin found themselves down two major players, with Copeland coming off an 18-point game in the Badgers’ previous matchup against Illinois State.

The Badgers were awarded free throws toward the end of the quarter, with freshman D’Yanis Jimenez helping cut the lead with two made shots.

The score entering halftime was 30-22 in favor of the Billikens.

Both teams continued scoring in the third quarter, but Saint Louis continued to maintain their lead over Wisconsin. The Billikens quickly increased their lead back to double digits with a second-chance shot from guard Kyla McMakin.

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Wisconsin continued to struggle with rebounds, showing how important Williams’ presence is on the glass. The Badgers outscored the Billikens by two points in the quarter but were still unable to take the lead.

Led by Porter and Jimenez, Wisconsin cut the lead to six points by the end of the third to make it 48-42 entering the fourth quarter.

An early 3-point shot in the final frame from freshman Tessa Grady shifted the momentum for Wisconsin, and an added four points from Jimenez in the first few minutes of the quarter helped the Badgers swipe at the Billikens lead once again.

Eventually, a made free throw from Porter tied the game at 53 with less than four minutes left, and both teams found themselves in the bonus in their final minutes of the game. 

Wisconsin was able to take a one point lead with less than a minute remaining, but Saint Louis quickly scored. The Badgers resorted to fouling in the last seconds, allowing the Billikens to score four more points and seal the game at the free throw line. The final score of the game was 65-60.

Despite being down two main scorers and defenders, Wisconsin stayed resilient and battled throughout the game.

Porter led the Badgers with 17 points and four rebounds, and Jimenez followed with 12 points. Saint Louis’ McMakin led all scorers with 18 points.

Monday’s loss marks Wisconsin’s first to Saint Louis in matchup history, with the Badgers winning the previous two meetings dating back to 2010.

Wisconsin finished 15-17 in head coach Marisa Moseley’s third year with the team, an encouraging four-win increase from the 2022-23 season.

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