Freshman guard Jolene Anderson and senior forward Ebba Gebisa paced Wisconsin (2-6 Big Ten, 8-10 overall) with 21 and 18 points, respectively. Michigan (1-8, 5-15) senior forward Tabitha Pool led all scorers with 28 points.
After a slow and sloppy start, freshman forward Danielle Ward provided the Badgers with a spark off the bench and energized the season-high crowd announced at 7,221 at the Kohl Center here. Ward showed her versatility and enthusiasm throughout the afternoon, finishing the contest with eight points on 4 of 5 shooting with three rebounds and three steals. It was her intensity, however, that helped propel the Badgers on a 19-8 run to finish the half and give UW a 35-31 lead at the break.
Wisconsin pulled away from the Wolverines midway through the second half behind the hot hand of junior guard Ashley Josephson, who came off the bench to score nine points. Josephson scored all of her points in a 15-1 run over a 4-minute, 30-second span that opened up the Badger's biggest lead of the game, 63-43, with 6:57 left to play.
"Ashley Josephson, you mention her, and that was a great game for Ashley and hopefully it is a confidence builder for her," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "She was confident with the basketball, she shot the ball in rhythm and had a couple big steals and some transition baskets for us."
Despite the large deficit, Michigan was able to claw back into the contest and cut the lead to seven with just under two minutes remaining in the second half. But Anderson hit two free throws to kill any hopes of a Michigan comeback. The Big Ten's fourth leading scorer, Anderson finished with 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting, while also pulling down seven rebounds. She also had a game-high nine turnovers, however.
"There was a general feeling of confidence amongst the team and as a group everyone believed in the team and we knew that we had it under control," senior forward Ebba Gebisa said. "Obviously we would have been nice to have extended our lead more, but I think everyone felt confident that the lead was secure."
UW used timely free throw shooting to secure the victory. After making only two of their first nine free throws in the first half, Wisconsin made all 16 free throw attempts in the second half.
Gebisa led the way from the charity stripe, hitting 10 of 10 free throws (eight of which came in the last six minutes of the game) en route to a season-high 18 points. Gebisa teamed with fellow forward Annie Nelson to dominate the Wolverines down low. Nelson grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds and added six points as UW outscored Michigan 38-18 in the paint.
"I think [the bench scoring] is tremendous. We certainly don't key our offense or our defense or anything in our game plan around one player..." Stone said. "We spread some things out and got some second-chance points and that is what Danielle and Ebba did for us."
Michigan's main offensive weapon, Pool, scored 28 points on 11 of 22 shooting, with a team-high 12 rebounds in 38 minutes. Freshman guard Becky Flippin came off the bench to add 15 points.
With the victory, the Badgers ended their 5-game Big Ten losing streak and moved into eighth place in the Big Ten standings. The victory was crucial for UW, which takes to the road for two straight Big Ten contests against last–place Indiana Tuesday and Iowa Sunday.