Some roadblocks stepped in the path of victory, however, in the Badgers' first exhibition of the year, an 82-79 loss to AAU Wisconsin, Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center:
- UW struggled immensely from the foul line, hitting just 10 of 23 free throws and just 1 of 10 in the first half.
- In a refrain from last season, the Badgers struggled with turnovers, giving up the ball 23 times. Point guard Stephanie Rich coughed it up eight times.
- Wisconsin benefited on many occasions from its faster pace, but defensive lapses gave the Vikings open looks and easy buckets.
"It's nice to score some points but obviously we gave up too many on the defensive end," Rich said.
AAU led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but Wisconsin slowly chipped away at the lead, benefiting from the use of a full-court press and continued offensive production from Rich, Wilson and Anderson.
"When it started to turn was in the second half with full court pressure, we got some turnovers, made some shots, momentum, tempo—the way I want this team to play is what was happening right there. That's fun to watch," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said.
Rich followed her sixth three-pointer with consecutive assists to Danielle Ward and Wilson, pulling the Badgers to within 67-66 with 8:46 remaining. Wisconsin hung within six points the rest of the way but could not regain a lead it held for much of the first half.
Ashley Josephson, though, capped a 6-0 run to tie it at 78-78 with 1:51 left.
DeForge then missed a layup and Anderson pulled in one of her 11 rebounds, giving the Badgers a chance to take the lead. Vikings point guard Dee Dee Pate, however, stripped Rich of the ball and cruised in for the go-ahead layup with 1:07 left. Another steal and fastbreak bucket put AAU up 82-78.
Wilson made 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds left and her miss went out of bounds off the Vikings, giving Wisconsin another chance. Rich, though, could not find anyone to inbound the ball to and was called for a 5-second violation.
"A week from today we have another exhibition game and our learning curve must improve," Stone said.
Still there were bright spots. The Badgers debuted four true freshmen and afforded significant minutes to all 10 players who dressed. Only Janese Banks sat out while nursing an injury.
Stone said afterwards she would have preferred to spread the minutes more evenly but foul trouble forced Rich to log 38 minutes, while Anderson played 35.
"If we can be able to rotate quickly and not lose…any continuity that's something I want to implement," Stone said.
Rich chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, Anderson had 18 points and 11 boards and Wilson added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite giving up inches across the front court, the Badgers boasted a 51-39 rebounding advantage.
"Rebounding has always been a focus," Stone said. "We chart missed box outs in practice and we run for a missed box out. There's no change. It is just we have some ability right now to get around, be in position and 51 rebounds is awesome."
The freshmen, led by Anderson, showed no signs of wide eyes in their college debuts. Danielle Ward provided 13 quality minutes at the post, with eight points and four rebounds. She struggled with foul trouble, but was active around the basket at both ends of the floor.
Shari' Welton started the second half, a reward for her strong defensive play in the first 20 minutes, Stone said. That presence continued throughout the game.
Akiya Alexander was as athletic as advertised but may have needed to throttle it down a little: in nine minutes she turned it over five times and scored four points before fouling out.
Anderson started in the backcourt alongside Rich and Josephson, while Ebba Gebisa and Wilson started up front. Rewarding defensive effort, Stone started Rich, Anderson, Welton, Wilson and Kjersten Bakke to begin the second half.