Boilermaker sophomore forward Erin Lawless scored a career-high 29 points and had a key block late in the game, as Purdue (8-3 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) prevailed 72-67.
Wisconsin (5-5, 0-1) built a 38-28 lead late in the first half but Purdue scored the final four points of the opening session to draw within 38-32, then began the second half on a 15-4 run to take a 47-42 lead. The Badgers, who shot 50 percent in the first half, were held scoreless for the first four minutes of second half and made just 26 percent of their shots in that frame
Still, Wisconsin had a chance late in the game. Senior guard Stephanie Rich, who led three Badgers in double figures with 20 points, hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 70-67 with 17 seconds left. Purdue sophomore guard Katie Gearlds, though, answered with two free throws of her own. Badger junior forward Kjersten Bakke then had her shot attempt blocked by Lawless.
"We just couldn't score when we needed to," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "(Purdue's) the 20th-ranked team in the country, and we're playing them right down to the wire."
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Wisconsin and was its first loss at home all season. The Badger are now 5-1 at the Kohl Center.
Gearlds finished with 20 points and five rebounds. Lawless scored 21 of her 29 points in the first half and also snagged seven rebounds in the game. She connected on 9 of 15 shots and 9 of 10 free throws.
Freshman guard Janese Banks added 15 points for Wisconsin and classmate Jolene Anderson pitched in 13. Anderson, the Badgers' leading scorer, was held to five points in the first half and did not score in the second half until hitting a 3-pointer with 5:15 left to draw Wisconsin within 57-54.
With junior reserve guard Ashley Josephson out of action with a broken nose, Rich played all 40 minutes, while Banks notched 35 and Anderson 34.
Junior forward Annie Nelson played 34 minutes, scoring seven points while snagging a game-high 12 rebounds.