Thanks to an early second-half explosion by her veterans, the Badgers can put that mark to rest.
Nearly identical to the men's team the night before, the Badgers (15-6, 4-4 Big Ten) overcame a sluggish start to pull away late, ousting the Wolverines 73-60 at the Kohl Center.
Faced with a four point deficit at the start of the second half, Wisconsin charged out of the gates with an offensive surge. Three pointers by Jolene Anderson and Brittany Heins on back-to-back possessions quickly erased the deficit in no time, putting the Badgers ahead for good.
But that didn't stop the Badger women. Anderson added a second three-pointer and a jumper from the wing, Janese Banks hit a three in front of the Badger bench, Rae Lin D'Alie scored on a breakaway and the points just kept pouring in. Before the Wolverines could blink, the Badgers used an 18-5 run to turn into a four-point setback into a nine-point boost.
On a night where neither team shot particularly well from the floor (Badgers shot 39 percent while Michigan shot 40), the Wisconsin run proved to be the difference in the game.
"We challenged [the players] at halftime," head coach Lisa Stone said. "We had a real nice balance attack on the boards, took better shots and showed some patience. [All of those things] allowed us to distance ourselves from an improving Michigan team."
Michigan would hang close on the outside shooting of junior Janelle Cooper and the inside work of 6'6" Krista Phillips, the tallest player on the court for either team. Cooper, who finished with a team-high 19 points, made three three-pointers on the night and Phillips scored 10, mostly in the paint, to keep the Wolverines within two possessions of the Badgers.
Even though the Badgers tried to let Michigan back into the game, committing five turnovers in the game's final three minutes, the Wolverines' shots evaded them. Michigan shot 30 percent from behind the arc, including 2-for-12 in the second half, and managed only eight buckets in the final 20 minutes.
"They started locking down their defense and it made it really difficult to get the ball into the post," head coach Cheryl Burnett said. "They really revved it up in the second half."
"The shots just weren't falling," guard Jessica Minnfield said. "We were confident and the shots were there and they didn't go down. It's part of the game."
After starting the game a combined 5-for-16, Anderson and Banks shrugged off their shooting woes to turn in solid performances. Banks scored 11 second half points to finish with a game-high 20, including 10-for-12 from the line.
Anderson was also instrumental in the Badgers scoring spurt, dropping 19 on Michigan after battling throughout the first half.
"We knew that when you play Wisconsin, you have to do a great job of keeping Jolene and Janese in check," Burnett said. "We did that pretty well in the first half, but they hit some tough, contested shots in the second half."
With Wisconsin's 16th win of the season securely under their belts, the Badgers can turn their attention to a big event on Sunday against border-rival Minnesota. With portions of game proceeds benefiting the Gilda Club in Madison, the Badgers have sold over 14,000 tickets for their rematch against Minnesota in the "Raise the Roof" promotion.
Win or lose for Lisa Stone, the day promises to be special.
"It's a great cause and I am happy to be a part of it," Stone said. "I hope we can sell out this place and [have a ] even better effort than we did tonight."
After losing by 18 in Minneapolis three weeks prior, the Badgers get their rematch against the Gophers. Currently, Minnesota sits in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten with a conference record of 4-3 and an overall record of 12-8. Led by the 14.8 points per game from Kelly Roysland, the Gophers are coming off a 13-point win at home against Penn State and will travel to Iowa on Thursday before playing the Badgers.
The all-time series is tied 28-28 with Wisconsin holding a 16-10 lead in Madison.