Despite the 16-point victory, though, it was not all fun and games for the Badgers (7-7 overall, 1-3 Big Ten). Wisconsin started the game flat, missing its first five shots from the floor as IPFW pulled out to an early 7-0 lead. The Badgers continued to struggle offensively throughout the first half, but inched into the lead on the strength of Josephson's scoring and the Mastodons' own share of poor shooting.
Josephson hit 8 of 11 shots for a career-high 20 points, but her most important work came in the first half, when she provided offense in bunches while the rest of the Badgers struggled to find the basket.
"She was in a zone, in a rhythm," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "We found her against a scrappy Fort Wayne team. They came out right away and we gave them all the confidence that they needed to start the game."
Josephson's 3-point shot six minutes into the contest brought Wisconsin within 11-9, and her jumper more than a minute later tied it. She also notched the last seven points of a 16-2 run, hitting her second 3 of the game with five minutes, 10 seconds left in the first half to give the Badgers a 31-17 lead.
Josephson made 4 of 7 shots in the first half, 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
"They shot the ball from the perimeter better than we, quite frankly, expected them to," IPFW coach Bruce Patterson said. "When they got it that really hurt. We had come in here with a game plan of trying to trap them and get them to turn the basketball over and get them to take some quick shots and quite frankly it didn't work out quite that way."
The tactic, which included an assortment of full court and halfcourt traps, worked early, as Wisconsin made just one of its first eight shots and six of its first 18 before finishing the first half 12-for-31. The Badgers also turned it over five times in the first seven minutes.
"We knew that coming in that they would throw a lot of junk defenses at us, from pressure to double teams back to zone—they box-and-one'd Ashley for a little while," Stone said. "We did a decent job of breaking it down."
The Badgers also struggled defensively early on, as the Mastodons dictated the game's tempo with their pressure defense and running offense.
"The positives are that it's a ‘W' and we'll take it and move on," Stone said. "The negatives are that our defense needs to be much stiffer."
Amy Gearlds scored seven of her 17 points in the first three and a half minutes, her runner giving IPFW a 9-2 advantage. The Mastodons, though, cooled considerably, missing eight consecutive shots during the Badgers' first-half run, on their way to just 37 percent shooting for the night.
For Wisconsin, Gebisa tallied 12 of her 19 points in the second half, and added game highs with 10 rebounds and four blocks. Rich finished with 12 points and 12 assists.
Center Verea Bibbs led IPFW with 23 points, despite playing just 24 minutes due to foul trouble.
Fouls were a key. Coincidentally, each team hit 12-of-31 shots in the first half, and made three 3-point shots. The difference was that Wisconsin went to the foul line 12 times in the first half, hitting its first 11 while the Mastodons were 0-for-2. Wisconsin led 38-27 at the break.
With Gebisa, Josephson and Rich leading the way, the Badgers picked up their offense in the second half, shooting 60 percent as a team (15-for-25) and keeping the Mastodons from drawing closer than a nine-point margin.
With the win, Wisconsin wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule 6-4, after going 2-9 in non-conference action last season.
Score by half
IPFW - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Verea Bibbs (8-7-23), Amy Gearlds (5-4-17), Courtney Nicley (3-0-7), Jenny Green (2-0-4), Maggie Bruening (2-0-4), Kelly Boyd (2-0-4). Totals: 22-11-59.
Wisconsin - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Ashley Josephson (8-2-20), Lello Gebisa (7-5-19), Stephanie Rich (4-2-12), Emily Ashbaugh (3-2-8), Kjersten Bakke (2-2-6), Ebba Gebisa (1-2-5), Kandace Evans (1-0-3), Annie Nelson (1-0-2). Totals: 27-15-75.
Three point goals - IPFW 4 (Gearlds 3, Nicley), Wisconsin 6 (Josephson 2, Rich 2, E. Gebisa, Evans).
Rebounds - IPFW 30 (Bibbs 8), Wisconsin 43 (L. Gebisa 10).
Assists - IPFW 13 (Nicley 6), Wisconsin 23 (Rich 12) Turnovers - IPFW 13 (three with 3), Wisconsin 16 (three with 3).
Blocks - IPFW 1 (Bibbs), Wisconsin 8 (L. Gebisa 4) Steals - IPFW 9 (three with 2), Wisconsin 4 (Rich 3) Fouls - IPFW 18, Wisconsin 12.
Points - in the paint: IPFW 30, Wisconsin 28 - Off turnovers: IPFW 17, Wisconsin 6 - Fast break: IPFW 2, Wisconsin 2 - Bench: IPFW 4, Wisconsin 19 - Second chance: IPFW 12, Wisconsin 15. Ties - 3. Lead changes - 1.