The Wisconsin women's basketball team upset No. 17 Minnesota 67-61 Sunday in front of an announced attendance of 14,697, the fifth-largest crowd in Kohl Center history. Amidst wild cheers of "Let's go red!" the Badgers (11-16 overall, 5-10 Big Ten) played from behind to tie the game at 61-61 and go ahead on Ward's layup. Banks, who finished with a team-high 18 points, drew two fouls and made all four free throws to secure the Badger win, the first over the Gophers in almost four years.
"I didn't want any déjà vu going back to my high school days," Banks said. "I had the chance to win a game my senior year of high school, to end my career and I choked. I wanted to make sure that didn't happen today."
After heartbreaking losses to then-No. 11 Notre Dame and then-No. 9 Michigan State at home earlier in the year, the upset win against the Gophers (17-8, 9-5) is the biggest of the year for the Badgers and arguably the biggest of Stone's career.
UW committed a season-low eight turnovers and tallied 14 assists, had four players in double figures, shot 48 percent from the field and held a lead when it mattered most against a big rival.
"Now that's what you're supposed to do in front of 15,000 people," Stone said. "I'm very, very proud of our basketball team. . . It's a very, very happy locker room."
"Us four seniors, we've never felt this throughout our whole career here at Wisconsin and it's unbelievable," Josephson said. "This is the first time we've ever beaten Minnesota in our careers and it's just ecstatic. It's hard to define."
Minnesota started off on a hot streak, going on an 8-0 run to open the first half and UW didn't score a field goal until three-and-a-half minutes had passed. UW steadily worked its way back into the game and pulled to within four, 17-13. But Minnesota, which has now lost four straight, went on a 12-2 run, seemingly burying the Badgers in a 29-15 deficit.
That's when Nelson made a layup, her only two points of the game and her first points since the Badgers' Dec. 29 loss at Purdue, that keyed a 12-0 run to end the half. During that span, senior guard Ashley Josephson knocked down a 3-pointer and hit a jumper, and freshman forward Caitlin Gibson sank two layups.
"Our team did not fall due to a slow start. It looked like (the game) could have gone a whole different direction but our team fought back to the half, had a look at it at halftime and came out with a will to win," Stone said.
In front of an electrifying crowd, UW and UM traded baskets throughout the second half, with the teams tied six times. UW overcame a Minnesota defense that pressured UW's perimeter players while taking care of the ball.
"We played poised, got the ball inside with the pressure that Minnesota put on our perimeter all . . . afternoon long on Janese and (Jolene) and (Ashley)," Stone said.
Ward hit a layup to give UW its first lead of the game, 51-50, with 8:29 left; UW relinquished that lead only once, after Minnesota sophomore center Natasha Williams made a free throw and junior forward Liz Podominick hit a layup to give the Gophers a 53-51 lead.
Minnesota played almost half of the second half without star forward Jamie Broback, who finished with a game-high 21 points and grabbed six boards but got into foul trouble early in the second half. She played 24 minutes, including 11 in the second half in which she had only six points and two rebounds, while committing two fouls early. And Broback was sitting on the bench when Wisconsin went on its 12-0 first-half run. Late in the second half, Minnesota head coach Pam Borton opted to instead use center Natasha Williams, who finished with eight points, two rebounds, two blocks and four fouls, when Broback was in foul trouble.
"We can't have Jamie sitting on the bench for very long," Borton said. "She is a consistent offensive player and threat on the floor and obviously one of our go-to players. And to have both Natasha and Jamie, our two starting post players, on the bench with four fouls, obviously hurt us on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively."
UW held guard Shannon Schonrock to nine points on 3 of 7 shooting, including 0 of 4 in the second half. All nine of her points came on treys in the first half.
Lisa Stone has a 1-22 record against Associated Press Top 25 teams and a 2-22 record against top 25 teams in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. UW previously upset Iowa 88-78, Feb. 6, 2005; the Hawkeyes were ranked No. 25 in the coaches poll but were not ranked in the Associated Press poll at the time.