Wisconsin (3-4) won its third straight on its home floor Wednesday night with a 75-66 victory over UW-Milwaukee (2-5). The Badgers put forth their most balanced outing of the season, as all five starters scored in double figures. Freshman guard Jolene Anderson led the way with 16 points but junior forwards Annie Nelson and Jordan Wilson added 12 and 11, respectively, and senior guard Stephanie Rich and freshman guard Janese Banks chipped in 10 each.
"Every once in a while we are going to have Jolene with 26 or Janese or whoever, but when we have the balanced scoring it's just harder defensively [for our opponent]," senior guard Stephanie Rich said. "They can't just shut down one player; they have to shut down the whole team."
Anderson got in early foul trouble, but responded by dropping 12 points in the second half. The freshman led Wisconsin in scoring for the fifth time this season.
Nelson turned in her second-straight double figure performance with 12 points, just one shy of her career best, on 6-of-8 shooting. The Hudson, Wis., native added eight rebounds and had three blocks in her first start at the Kohl Center.
UW-Milwaukee managed to keep the game close for the entire first half, as the Badgers entered the intermission with a 38-36 advantage. The second half was a different story as Wisconsin used a 20-3 run early to distance itself from the Panthers.
"I didn't know it was 20-3, I like that and I like to come out of the locker room fired up like that and my team seems to respond to a fire at halftime," head coach Lisa Stone said. "It's apparent and they have and came out with fire in our eyes, locked down on defense much better and it does show."
UW-Milwaukee tied the score at 40-40 just 49 seconds into the second half, but from that point on the Badgers' defensive pressure was overwhelming. Wisconsin held the Panthers without a field goal for the first 10 minutes, 22 seconds of the second half. The Badgers also forced six UWM turnovers in that span. Stone felt that the players deserve most of the credit for their performance, but it was not without a little fire from the head coach.
"I can't say word for word," Nelson said about Stone's halftime speech, implying that there were a few obscenities coming from the coach's mouth. "Basically we needed to pick up our defense. I mean, we couldn't let them drive on us and they were shooting threes in our face, so just getting a hand on the 3-point shot and just playing our game. The first half was not our game on defense."
The Badgers improved to 3-0 at the Kohl Center this season. Lost in the impressive defensive effort and balanced scoring attack was Wisconsin's best shooting performance of the season. UW shot a season best from the floor (55.2 percent), from behind the arc (42.9) and from the charity stripe (88.9 percent).
"I am very optimistic about this team and there's a lot of games to be played," Stone said. "Our team knows that they can feel good about the win but that they can certainly play better, but some good glimmers of what could happen."
With the victory Wisconsin ended a four-game losing streak. The Badgers were in all four of the defeats and hope to use the 75-66 victory as a starting point for regaining the momentum they had after winning their first two games of the season.
"We still are having fun with each other but we just needed to get that confidence back," Rich said of the victory "We wish we could get a win on the road and that will be our next goal going past the Christmas break. Just to come home, get a nice win, everyone play well and play a quality team like UWM, practice will be a little bit better tomorrow."