A size advantage kept the Wisconsin women's basketball team in the game in the first half but No. 6 Purdue (17-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) stretched a five-point lead at the half into a 58-42 win Thursday.
For Wisconsin (8-10, 2-6), senior Lello Gebisa, a 6-foot-7 center, came off the bench and had team highs 17 points and 10 rebounds, joining sister Ebba, a 6-3 junior forward and occasionally senior Emily Ashbaugh, a 6-5 center, up front. The Badgers used their height advantage to keep the game close in the first half, going into the locker room down just five after a 3-pointer from junior guard Stephanie Rich brought the score to 28-23 in favor of Purdue.
"I am very, very proud of my basketball team," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "We put ourselves in a position to compete with one of the top teams in the country at their place."
Rich gutted out 40 minutes for Wisconsin but struggled to find her shot, going for 2-for-14 from field. She did, however, have seven assists. Leading scorer Ashley Josephson played 39 minutes and added eight points.
Although the Boilermakers do not have a player taller than 6-2, they dominated in the second half, thanks to senior forward Shereka Wright, who had 19 points, and senior guard Erika Valek, who had 12.
Wright was injured in the second half when she hit her back and head on the floor. She sat out just four minutes before returning to the court.
Turnovers were once again a problem for the Badgers, whose 20 were parlayed into 23 Purdue points.
Despite the Badgers' strong post presence, they shot just 10 free throws, all in the first half.
"We weren't real aggressive with the basketball," Stone said. "They switched a lot of screens and posed some problems. We found the mismatches and got the ball into Lello. When we're on the road in the Big Ten, and we can come to play like we did today, it's a much better effort than we've had in our previous Big Ten away games."
Score by half
Wisconsin - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Lello Gebisa (8-1-17), Ashley Josephson (2-4-8), Stephanie Rich (2-0-6), Kjersten Bakke (2-1-5), Emily Ashbaugh (2-0-4), Kandace Evans (1-0-2). Totals: 17-5-42.
Purdue - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Shereka Wright (7-5-19), Erika Valek (5-0-12), Lindsey Hicks (2-1-6), Beth Jones (2-0-6), Erin Lawless (2-0-5), Katie Gearlds (2-0-4), Sharika Webb (2-0-4), Carol Duncan (1-0-2). Totals: 23-6-58.
Three point goals - Wisconsin 3 (Rich 2, L. Gebisa), Purdue 6 (Jones 2, Valek 2, Hicks, Lawless).
Rebounds - Wisconsin 38 (L. Gebisa 10), Purdue 33 (Duncan 8).
Assists - Wisconsin 13 (Rich 7), Purdue 12 (Wright, Valek 3) Turnovers - Wisconsin 20 (Bakke, Rich 4), Purdue 7 (Lawless 2).
Blocks - Wisconsin 4 (L. Gebisa 4), Purdue 2 (Hicks, Duncan) Steals - Wisconsin 1 (Bakke), Purdue 8 (Emily Heikes, Valek 2) Fouls - Wisconsin 17, Purdue 12.
Points - in the paint: Wisconsin 20, Purdue 14 - Off turnovers: Wisconsin 5, Purdue 23 - Fast break: Wisconsin 15, Purdue 11 - Bench: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 15 - Second chance: Wisconsin 15, Purdue 11