Badgers win in spite of themselves

Wisconsin survives malaise for 62-60 road win

EVANSTON, Ill. — The Wisconsin women's basketball team has struggled all year long on the road and Sunday afternoon was no different when the Badgers took the court against usual Big Ten bottom feeders Northwestern.

But for the first time this season Wisconsin (1-1 Big Ten, 6-5 overall) prevailed on the road, weathering a second half meltdown and surviving a wild finish for a 62-60 victory.

It was only the Badgers' second Big Ten road win in the past two seasons.

"It's a road win in the Big Ten, we'll take this and move on," head coach Lisa Stone said. "We need to limit our mental mistakes, I think we had a few mental mistakes out there today. We survived a scare."

With 34 seconds remaining in the contest, UW senior guard Stephanie Rich converted a three-point play that put the Badgers up 61-60.

After Northwestern's Ifeoma Okonkwo turned the ball over on the ensuing possession the Wildcats were forced to foul freshman guard Jolene Anderson with 3.7 seconds left. Anderson made the first free throw but missed the second, giving Northwestern (0-2, 3-12) a chance to win the game with a 3-pointer.

Northwestern got the ball to Melissa Culver, the Wildcats leading 3-point shooter, who launched a running 3-point attempt from well beyond the arc as time expired. The ball left her hands, hit the backboard and rimmed out, allowing the Badgers to escape with their first road victory and first Big Ten victory of the season.

"I didn't see intensity with our team. I saw a team that thought they could just come in here and win," Stone said. "NU deserves a lot of credit. That shot by Culver, maybe it should've gone in, because they played harder than we did."

"Culver and I went on the Big Ten tour together and she is a fantastic player… [Her shot] was close and it was just relief and happy to get a Big Ten road win," Rich said.

The Badgers were led by Rich's season-high 22 points. She led UW in the early minutes of the game, scoring nine of Wisconsin's first 15 points. Rich hit 8 of 18 field goals on the afternoon, including 4 of 12 3-pointers, and added six steals in 39 minutes.

Anderson added 19 points on 9 of 21 shooting while distributing a game-high five assists and snagging seven rebounds.

The Badgers seemed poised to pull away from the Wildcats in the first half after grabbing a 36-27 halftime lead. But second half letdowns have almost become routine for the Badgers on the road and Northwestern capitalized on one of UW's worst halves of the season. The Badgers shot a meager 29.4 percent from the floor and committed 14 turnovers in the final 20 minutes of play.

The Wildcats used an 11-2 run to tie the game at 43-43 less than eight minutes into the second half. It was the first time Northwestern had pulled even since the teams were together at 7-7. Less than four minutes later NU had grabbed a 6-point lead, its largest of the game.

"Today we made it a ballgame," Northwestern head coach Beth Combs said. "One of the things that we talked about with this team is they have to go out and compete for 40 minutes and we put ourselves again in a little bit of a situation in the first half that we didn't win those loose ball plays, we didn't win the hustle plays. In the second half we made that adjustment and we were able to put ourselves in the ballgame."

Wisconsin closed the game with a 16-8 run, moving its overall record over .500. Box Score

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