Wisconsin's offense was constantly disrupted by the Golden Eagles' tenacious defense, causing shooting problems for the Badgers (4-2 overall), who finished 22 of 70 from the field, including a season-low 1 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc.
"Our shooting woes were indeed caused by Marquette's defense," head coach Lisa Stone said. "We were prepared for what in the spectator's eye looked like a 1-1-3, which went back to a 2-3 zone and we were disrupted. We had some open looks but didn't shoot the ball real well and that was again caused by their game. They sped us up, they took us out of our rhythm and we couldn't get in an offensive flow."
Despite being pumped up for a big game, Wisconsin's struggles began with tip-off. The Badgers fell behind 10-5 in the first five minutes and could never recover from the deficit. The Badgers took plenty of shots in the first half—35 to be exact—but few resulted in scores. Of those 35 shots, only seven went in for a paltry 20 percent shooting.
The Golden Eagles (4-1) were cold to open the game but overcame early-game jitters to shoot 10 of 27 in the first half and 23 of 52 in the game.
"When you're so excited about a game, sometimes you can start a little jittery and I think that's how we started," Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell said. "But [the Badgers] were denying and they were really preventing us from passing the ball in the wing… For the first few possessions, we did not run offense and then after that, we settled in and we were fine."
Even Wisconsin's typical leaders, sophomore guards Jolene Anderson and Janese Banks, struggled in the first half. Anderson was an uncharacteristic 0-for-8 in the first half, with her only point coming on a free throw. Banks had seven first-half points but five of those came on free throws. The halftime score was 27-22, Marquette.
Anderson, who played 39 minutes, finished with 11 points, six of which were scored in the last three minutes of the game. She tied a career-high 14 rebounds, for her fifth double-double of the season but also committed three turnovers and three personal fouls. Her first basket from the field came three-and-a-half minutes into the second half and she shot only 4 of 19. Banks led the team with 16 points and had eight rebounds.
"We have so much respect for [Wisconsin's] offensive ability and what they can do that we wanted them to work extremely hard for their points," Mitchell said.
Marquette junior forward Danielle Kamm led the Golden Eagles with 16 points.
"I just wanted to get out and I was really excited about the game," Kamm said. "This season I'm just really excited about, so this was another game to just get ready for it. So I just was out there playing my game and just tried to do what I could do to help the team."
Neither Marquette nor Wisconsin could hold onto the ball, with Marquette coughing up 22 turnovers and the Badgers giving away 19 balls.
The Badgers and Golden Eagles kept the game close in the first half but Marquette broke away midway through the second half, while Wisconsin still struggled with its shots. Marquette led by as many as 20 points with 3:30 left.
"Defensively, that's as poor of defense as we've played all year," Stone said. "We allowed too many ball reversals."
That's when Wisconsin warmed up but its lone run came much too late. Senior forward Jordan Wilson narrowed that gap to 18 points with a put-back on a shot from Anderson that rolled on the rim but spun out. That kicked off a 15-4 Badger scoring run to whittle the 20-point deficit down to 68-59 with 37 seconds left. But the Golden Eagles had already put the game out of reach.
Foul trouble plagued both teams all night, with the teams combining for 50 personal fouls. Senior forward Kjersten Bakke, Banks and sophomore forward Danielle Ward all had four personal fouls, contributing to Wisconsin's season-high 24 fouls.
Two Golden Eagles—junior forward Jasmine McCullough and sophomore forward Svetlana Kovalenko—fouled out and junior forward Christina Quaye and senior guard Carolyn Kieger had four each, as the Golden Eagles finished with 26 fouls.
"It was very hard to get into flow," Stone said. "A lot of stoppage of play and it's something we have to overcome. The thing about that offensively is that you can create offense from our defense. I really stuck that to the kids after the game that that's how you can get into the flow. Have defense create offense."
Even when given chances at the charity strip, the Badgers struggled to connect on their shots, hitting just 14 of 29—43 percent.
Injuries plague Badgers
During the game, Banks cut her head over her left eye. Senior forward Kjersten Bakke hurt her right knee. All three are listed as day-to-day.