Madison, Wis.—In what has been a developing theme this season, Wisconsin hung close in a Big Ten home game, but could not overcome a poor offensive performance or, on this day, the play of Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen.
Wisconsin held the Gophers largely in check, but could not contain Whalen, who tallied 24, leading Minnesota to a 59-48 win Sunday.
"To hold Minnesota to 59 points is big for us," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "(We're) having a little trouble putting the ball in the basket right now, but with six turnovers at the half, finishing with just 16 against a great team is certainly noteworthy."
The Badgers (8-11 overall, 2-7 Big Ten), played a tight game in the opening minutes and tied the Gophers at 19 apiece with 2:24 left in the half but let the game slip after that, when Minnesota (17-3, 6-3) went on a 7-0 run to close out the half with 26-19 lead.
In similar fashion, Wisconsin suffered a six-minute scoring drought with just under nine minutes left in the second half that truly put the game out of reach. The Badgers opened the four-minute stretch with five consecutive turnovers, but Minnesota also struggled, hitting just 1 of 10 shots. The Gophers, though, pulled ahead 50-40.
"That's where we have to take care of the ball," Stone said.
"They turned things up a little bit and we just made some poor decisions, poor decisions with great defense on us," Stone added. "Sixteen turnovers for us is a good number. We only had six at the half and that's a key reason why we were still in the game in the first half."
Taking care of the ball was not a problem for the sharp shooting Whalen, who was essentially unstoppable and had nine rebounds in addition to her 24 points.
"She is a fantastic player," Stone said. "I thought Ashley and (sophomore forward Kjersten) Bakke did a pretty decent job on her but we lost her a few times and we shot and she would come up with it. Nine boards is huge for a guard and 24 points—she makes the plays when they need it."
Janel McCarville, a junior center from Stevens Point, typically provides a steady presence and averages 15.6 points per game but had only four against Wisconsin. Playing at her "home away from home," McCarville contributed to the game in less obvious ways, with 13 rebounds and a momentum-building tip-in at the first-half buzzer.
"Coach (Pam Borton) stressed with me to be a little bit more of a scorer but my shots weren't falling today so I had to pick it up somewhere else," McCarville said, later mentioning her shot at the end of the half. "I think it was pretty big. It gave us momentum going in to the locker room, kind of took some steam out of them."
For Wisconsin, senior center Lello Gebisa had 13 points on 5 of 9 shooting and had 11 of Wisconsin's 28 rebounds for her 10th career double-double. Wisconsin sophomore guard Ashley Josephson played with confidence and led the Badgers at the half with seven points, eventually racking up 12 and knocking down two 3-point shots.
After missing a shot early in the second half, Josephson wore a fierce look of determination as she sped down to the other side of the court. She had that same look on her face the entire game, only replacing that countenance with one of dejection after the game.
"I thought Lello and Ashley, the looks on their faces at the end of the game, they were battling," Stone said. "We gave great effort, showed great heart. It's just unfortunate that we came up on the short end."
Score by half
Minnesota - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Lindsay Whalen (10-2-24), Shannon Schonrock (3-2-10), Jamie Broback (3-0-7), Kadidja Andersson (2-2-6), Shannon Bolden (2-0-5), Janel McCarville (2-0-4), Kelly Roysland (1-1-3). Totals: 23-7-59.
Wisconsin - (Field goals-Free throws-Points) - Lello Gebisa (5-3-13), Ashley Josephson (5-0-12), Emily Ashbaugh (2-2-6), Ebba Gebisa (1-3-5), Jordan Wilson (2-0-4), Stephanie Rich (1-2-4), Kjersten Bakke (1-0-2), Kandace Evans (0-2-2). Totals: 17-12-48.
Three point goals - Minnesota 6 (Whalen 2, Schonrock 2, Broback, Bolden), Wisconsin 2 (Josephson 2).
Rebounds - Minnesota 35 (McCarville 13), Wisconsin 28 (L. Gebisa 11).
Assists - Minnesota 11 (Schonrock, Roysland 3), Wisconsin 11 (Rich, L. Gebisa, Wilson 3) Turnovers - Minnesota 14 (McCarville 5), Wisconsin 16 (Rich, L. Gebisa 4).
Blocks - Minnesota 0, Wisconsin 2 (L. Gebisa, Bakke) Steals - Minnesota 10 (McCarville 5), Wisconsin 6 (L. Gebisa 3) Fouls - Minnesota 13, Wisconsin 15. Fouled out - Bakke (Wisconsin).
Points - in the paint: Minnesota 32, Wisconsin 18 - Off turnovers: Minnesota 16, Wisconsin 11 - Fast break: Minnesota 8, Wisconsin 2 - Bench: Minnesota 10, Wisconsin 13 - Second chance: Minnesota 9, Wisconsin 5. Ties - 4. Lead changes - 2.