"I'm telling you it just wasn't meant to be," Green Bay (6-2) head coach Kevin Borseth said. "It was very difficult and I'm sure we're going back and videotape and see things we could have done to play better. [Wisconsin] played extremely well. They played the game of their life today. I really believe that, but they had to."
Trailing 76-69 with 3:22 left to play, Wisconsin's offense kicked into gear. Freshman guard Janese Banks hit a 3-pointer at the 3:02 mark and set up junior forward Jordan Wilson for a bucket in the paint to draw the Badgers within 76-74 with 1:43 left.
When the Badgers pulled to within two the Kohl Center crowd came to its feet, and for good reason. Junior forward Annie Nelson grabbed one of her game-high 11 rebounds, allowing freshman guard Jolene Anderson to hit a triple with 70 seconds left to give the Badgers their first lead since the 5:50 mark in the first half
As Wisconsin heated up, the Phoenix cooled. UW-Green Bay senior forward Tiffany Mor hit 11 of her first 14 shots but missed two opportunities with less than a minute to play. Badger guard Stephanie Rich's turnover gave the Phoenix new life with 31 seconds left. Wilson, however, stole it from Mor with five seconds left and sunk two free throws to solidify Wisconsin's win.
"What a gutsy performance defensively," Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone said. "We hung in there against a tremendously well-coached and talented basketball team."
Anderson led all scorers with 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting, including 3 of 6 beyond the 3-point arc. It was her third game scoring more than 20 points this season.
"I don't know why they left her open so much," senior guard Stephanie Rich said, "but we found her."
Mor and Scharlow led the Phoenix with 24 and 20, respectively. Scharlow led all players with six assists and five steals.
UW-Green Bay jumped out to an early 13-6 lead as the Badgers struggled to pull down the offensive boards. As would prove the story of the game, Wisconsin came back, primarily because of the dominant offensive presence of Anderson.
Every time it seemed as though the Phoenix had pulled away for good, the Badgers found a way to close the gap. Wisconsin, though, led only fleetingly in the first half and trailed throughout the second.
After making 6 of 8 3-pointers in the first half, the Phoenix opened the second half with more hot shooting from beyond the arc, connecting on their first three triples of the second session before finishing 9 of 14.
Wisconsin stayed in the game with some strong defensive play. The Badgers forced nine turnovers in the second half and kept the Phoenix off the free throw line completely.
"[Green Bay] came off a hard loss to Minnesota and one of the comments we had up on the board was that one of the coaches said they weren't going to lose another game … so from here on out maybe they won't lose another game," Rich said. "We didn't want them [to come to] the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon and take us lightly. I don't know if they took us lightly, but we really proved a point."
After suffering through a four-game road losing streak, the Badgers have now won their last two. They will remain in their friendly confines Thursday, when Santa Clara comes to Madison.