Down by 70-44 with 8:01 left in the game, Wisconsin kicked off a 22-4 scoring run, giving itself a chance to upset a top 10 team. But the Badgers could not quite catch up to Michigan State. UW could not stop Spartan junior forward Liz Shimek, who had 22 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals.
"I thought we had chances to be even better," Badger coach Lisa Stone said after her team shot 50 percent to Michigan State's 43.8 percent. "But that's a very tough team we played. Shimek and (senior center) Kelli Roehrig are very good inside." Roehrig finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Michigan State led off with a 10-2 run in the first half and a 14-4 run in the second but eased up, keeping the Badgers in the game.
"Liz Shimek was our one player who came ready to play," Michigan State head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "Everyone else attacked, then ate pizza, attacked, then went on vacation."
Wisconsin trailed 24-9 but bounced back on a 19-4 run late in the first half, at one point tying the game 30-30. MSU junior guard Lindsay Bowen, however, knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Spartans a 33-30 advantage heading into the locker room.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team," Stone said. "The first half we're down by 12, down by 10, now it's 30-30 tie, and (Lindsay) Bowen makes her first basket of the first half on a three. She's going to make that anyway; we're competing, we're battling. We go in the locker room and I told my team we are working harder than they are. It doesn't matter who is ranked where or what. The fact is our players left it out there."
Michigan State stormed onto the court in the second half, orchestrating a 14-4 run early, but again let up and paved the way for Wisconsin's late-game opportunity.
"We all need to realize what can happen when we go all out," Shimek said. "Instead, we stopped for some coffee, and we can't be that kind of team."
Wisconsin freshman forward Danielle Ward had a career night, racking up 14 points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes. Freshman guard Jolene Anderson led the Badgers with 16 points, while junior forward Annie Nelson contributed 10. Senior guard Stephanie Rich had only three points on 1 of 8 shooting and had six turnovers, but tallied three steals and a season-high 10 assists.
"Stephanie Rich was dead-tired, she had no legs; she left herself out there," Stone said.
The game will go into record books as a loss but Stone took many positives from the game.
"We shot the ball much better tonight," Stone said. "We got people involved. Look at the freshmen's line; for example Danielle Ward, plays 14 minutes comes down with five boards and 14 points. I'm so pleased; I'm so encouraged by what I see. The effort was left here, we come away with a loss but we come away with a win in a lot of different ways."