Badgers silence Rangers in 98-56 win

Banks scores 30 in women's basketball exhibition game

The Wisconsin women's basketball team has waited months to get back on the basketball court. On Sunday afternoon, coach Lisa Stone's squad showed the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers just how eager they were, cruising to a 98-56 win before a Kohl Center crowd of nearly 5,000 in the Badgers' first exhibition of the season.

"This was Wisconsin's first game and they were ready to go," Parkside head coach Jenny Knight-Kenesie said.

Parkside kept things interesting until the 12:17 mark, when a three-point play from sophomore guard Janese Banks sparked a 19-1 Wisconsin run. When the dust settled, the Badgers led 31-9 with 7:33 to play in the first half. Lisa Stone's squad never looked back from there.

A jumper from sophomore Mackenzie Heise briefly stopped the bleeding for the Rangers, but the Badgers answered with a 9-2 run to push the lead to 27 points, 40-13, with just over three minutes remaining in the half. The lead would grow to as many as 28 before the Badgers entered the locker room with a 48-21 advantage after sophomore guard Jolene Anderson knocked down a baseline jumper as time expired.

In the second half, the Badgers did not let up. Stone's squad opened the half on a 7-0 run, and just over three minutes in, the Badgers had pushed the lead to 38 points. By the midway point of the second stanza, Wisconsin had built its largest lead of the day, 45 points, after a three from Anderson and a layup from Banks put the Badgers in front 83-38 with 9:32 to play.

The teams traded baskets the rest of the way, with the Rangers never pulling closer than a 41-point deficit.

Eleven Badgers saw action on the day, each logging more than 10 minutes of playing time. The only player on the roster who did not make an appearance was freshman guard Brittany Cannon.

Banks and Anderson led the way, each logging more than 25 minutes on the day. Anderson filled out the stat sheet with 17 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals on the day. But Banks stole the show, leading all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

"She's a much better basketball player than she was last year," Knight-Kenesie said of Banks. "A better, more complete player. She did a great job at the point guard position for them, really handled the ball well on the offensive end…Then on the defensive end, she's so athletic and quick that she's able to put a lot of pressure on whoever she's guarding."

The only other Badger to log 25 minutes of playing time was senior guard Ashley Josephson, who finished with 10 points and five assists on 4-of-7 shooting.

Joining Josephson, Banks and Anderson in the starting lineup Sunday were senior forwards Kjersten Bakke and Annie Nelson. Bakke led the Badgers on the boards with eight rebounds in 21 minutes of action and Nelson tallied two points and three boards in 16 minutes, 13 of which came after the intermission.

Many of Nelson's first-half minutes went to sophomore Danielle Ward, who entered the game three minutes in and provided an instant boost. Ward finished with 10 points, all in the first half, on 5-of-6 shooting. She pulled down six rebounds, five in the opening stanza.

"Danielle was all over the place," Stone said. "[She] was out denying the wing and scoring inside. You saw some athleticism, which is certainly something Danielle is known for."

As a team, the Badgers dominated in the post and in transition. Stone's squad showed off their transition game from the opening tip, outscoring the Rangers 18-0 in fast break points.

Though Bakke, Nelson and forward Jordan Wilson each scored less than five points and freshman forward Caitlin Gibson added just six, the Badgers outscored the Rangers 57-14 in the paint. Much of the inside scoring came from the UW backcourt, with Banks scoring many of her 30 points near the basket.

The 57-point outburst in the paint may be the result of a deliberate effort on the part of the UW coaching staff to get the ball down low, either in the post or through drives to the basket.

"We are charting post touches," Stone said. "And the post doesn't have to be Danielle, it could be Jolene or Janese. [It's just] the ball getting inside…Our points in the paint can come from a lot of different people. The game did dictate [going inside], but I think our offense dictates it as well."

The Badgers were also active on the defensive end, responding to Stone's call for more pressure on the ball. Wisconsin forced 11 steals on the day, resulting in a 36-4 edge in points off turnovers.

"I think a lot of our offense early on was off of defense," Stone said. "We went into transition and scored on layups and got to the rim."

Wisconsin was also able to protect the ball, posting an assist/turnover ratio of 26-11, while Parkside finished with a lackluster 10-21.

Though the result was lopsided and the Rangers did not present the talent and athleticism that Wisconsin will face during the Big Ten season, Stone said the exhibition was a productive and positive start for her young team.

"It's not so much about the score, but it's about the experience," Stone said. "Our team needed to play a new opponent besides themselves, and it was very good to see our new defensive principles as well as offensively getting everyone involved in the game…I believe our basketball team feels a sense of team accomplishment."

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