A pair of Northern Illinois seniors helped spoil Lisa Stone's Wisconsin debut Sunday. Monique Davis scored a career-high 20 points and Lindsay Secrest hit four three-point shots in the second half, leading the Huskies (2-0) to a 68-65 road win.
"We're going to learn how to win and take the good from this game and take what didn't end up going our way and improve on it," Stone said.
Secrest, who was 0-for-3 from behind the arc in the first half, hit all four of her three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes, the first giving the Huskies a 37-32 edge early in the second half. Wisconsin continually fought to get back into the game, trailing the Huskies by 10 or more points four times in the second half. Each time the Badgers drew close, though, Secrest seemed ready with a big shot.
After Josephson hit a jumper with a little more than eleven minutes to play to close the gap to 42-37, Secrest answered, drilling a triple for an eight-point lead. Josephson, who hit three from beyond the arc in the second half, knocked down her second three-point shot with eight and a half minutes left to pull Wisconsin within six. Following a Northern Illinois timeout, though, Secrest hit her third and then followed Badger forward Kjersten Bakke's layup with her fourth three-point shot in a nine-minute span, giving the Huskies a 55-45 edge with seven and a half minutes to play.
When it was not Secrest, it was Davis, who hurt the Badgers in every way imaginable, knocking down perimeter shots, driving to the lane, setting up teammates and playing solid defense. Davis, who has averaged just 4.7 points per game in her career, hit the game-winning bucket in Northern Illinois' 49-47 win over Wisconsin last season.
With two minutes, 20 second remaining Sunday, Josephson hit a jumper to pull Wisconsin within 61-58. Davis answered with a jumper of her own to give the Huskies a 63-58 edge. Stephanie Rich then hit two free throws to close the gap back to three. With a minute, 42 seconds left, but Davis drove to the lane and drew a foul, hitting one of two free throws to make it a two possession game.
Down the stretch and playing with a lead, Northern Illinois extended its defense, flustering Wisconsin with a full court trap. With 38 seconds left and the Badgers still trailing 64-60, Josephson tried to throw an angled pass down the court for Ebba Gebisa, but the ball sailed out of bounds. Secrest and Davis sandwiched a Bakke layup with four free throws, pulling out to a 68-62 lead with 22 seconds remaining. In desperation time, Wisconsin's Rich made a triple with less than three seconds left, but the Huskies in-bounded the ball and were able to run out the clock.
Rich shot for 4-for-13 from beyond the arc, setting a women's basketball Kohl Center record for three point attempts. Wisconsin, however, tried from the opening tip to pound the ball inside to center Emily Ashbaugh and forward Lello Gebisa. Ashbaugh finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, but was harassed in the paint by a myriad of Huskie defenders, who constantly double teamed entry passes to the post. The biggest impact was on Wisconsin starting forwards Lello and Ebba Gebisa, who took just four shots combined.
"Northern Illinois really did a good job converging on our posts," Ashbaugh said. "It really was instantaneous the second we touched the ball there were at last two people in our face and you knew another was coming....I think the posts could have done a better job handling that pressure but we definitely learned from it."
The Badgers turned to their perimeter shooters and often employed a three guard lineup, with freshman Kandace Evans playing point guard to allow Josephson and Rich to operate on the wing. Rich and Josephson each played 37 minutes Sunday and scored 16 points a piece.
Wisconsin fell behind 23-16 with eight minutes left in the first half after a 15-2 run from Northern Illinois. The Badgers, though, battled back and went on a 14-2 run capped by a Josephson jumper with one minute, three seconds remaining in the half. Huskie freshman center Kristin Weiner, who had all 11 of her points in the first half, hit a free throw to tie the game at 27-27 heading into halftime.
The Badgers opened the second half with two turnovers and a missed jumper, helping Northern Illinois pull out to a 32-27 advantage, a lead they would not relinquish.
"You can measure success in a lot of different ways and we did show some great improvement, but I also want to get it in their minds that we want to flip these scores around," Stone said.
Score by half
Northern Illinois - (Field goals-Free Throws-Points) - Monique Davis (7-4-20), Lindsay Secrest (5-2-16), Kristin Wiener (4-3-11), Joi Scott (3-0-7), Jennifer Youngblood (2-2-6), Stephanie Smith (1-1-4), Jennifer Uptmor (1-0-2), Stephanie Raymond (1-0-2). Totals: 24-12-68.
Wisconsin - (Field goals-Free Throws-Points) - Ashley Josephson (6-1-16), Stephanie Rich (5-2-16), Emily Ashbaugh (5-5-15), Kjersten Bakke (3-1-7), Ebba Gebisa (2-2-6), Lello Gebisa (1-3-5). Totals: 22-14-65.
Three point goals: Northern Illinois 8 (Secrest 4, Davis 2, Scott, Smith), Wisconsin 7 (Rich 4, Josephson 3).
Rebounds: Northern Illinois 32 (Youngblood 9), Wisconsin 33 (Ashbaugh 9).
Assists: Northern Illinois 16 (Smith 5, Youngblood 5), Wisconsin 17 (Rich 7).