The Badger women's basketball team had this game secured by halftime, if not earlier. Working on the hot hands of sophomore guards Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks, the Badgers leapt out to an early 7-0 lead, which grew into a 25-10 lead 10 minutes into the game. Cleveland State never came close to mounting any sort of a comeback, heading into the locker room down 45-28 at halftime.
Anderson made five of her first six shots, contributing 11 of the Badgers' first 13 points; Banks was 5 of 7 in the first half, scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points before the break.
"Did [Wisconsin] hit, like, every shot they took in the first five minutes? I felt like they did," said Kate Peterson, Cleveland State's head coach and a UW assistant from 1997-2003. "I think they were on fire and Wisconsin was just really ready to play and they were very focused and they found the open looks and they knocked them down."
But Wisconsin only hit one layup and one free throw in the first 4:45 of the second half, while allowing the Vikings to collect nine points in the first two-and-a-half minutes to narrow the Badgers' lead to 48-37.
Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone credited Cleveland State's zone defense—which the Vikings employed in all but five possessions of the game—as a factor in slowing the Badgers down.
"A zone, a lot of times, what a zone does to you is exactly what it can do. It takes the tempo out of games. You're not attacking your screen, you're not really screening," Stone said. "We had a little trouble with the basketball. We stopped attacking and just tried to pass overhand in stead of moving people."
Sophomore forward Danielle Ward, who had her first career double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, hit a layup 4:48 into the second half. That kicked off a 12-4 Badger scoring run, which gave the Badgers a 60-41 lead with 10 minutes left in the game.
Cleveland State freshman guard Dominique Butler scored 14 points and had two steals but also had four turnovers and fouled out with 2:46 left in the game. Junior guard Betsy Bowser was the only other Viking to finish in double figures, with 10 points.
"[Butler] probably is one of the players on our team—probably the only player on our team—who is athletically as talented as some of the Wisconsin players," Peterson said. "She's able to create shots that some of our other players really aren't able to do. Dominique is a gamer. She just gets out there and makes things happen."
Ward and senior forward Annie Nelson halted Cleveland State's offense, crashing the boards for a combined 14 defensive rebounds. CSU was out-rebounded 45-35.
Wisconsin played much of the second half without Anderson, who hurt her lip midway through that period. Anderson finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four steals in 27 minutes, most of which came in the first half.
"She'll be fine," Stone said. "She likes to have attention to her mouth, I think, but she'll be fine. She's ready to play, it's a cut on her lip and she'll be in practice tomorrow."
Senior guard Ashley Josephson was 5 of 11, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, and finished with 13 points. After scoring just eight points Friday night in Wisconsin's 77-54 win over Houston, Josephson warmed up in the second half Sunday.
"I just need to learn to get my legs back into it," Josephson said. "That's all it takes, is get ready, get into a little position and then fire away."
Wisconsin struggled at the charity strip, making only 18 of its 32 attempts; Ward made just 6 of 13 free throw attempts.
"It was kind of frustrating, going to the line and not converting on them," Ward said, adding that her teammates gave her some encouragement about the miscues. "That right there helped a lot because you kind of feel the pressure."