Coming off a tight game against Idaho State, Wisconsin was once again locked in a close game Saturday night against UW-Green Bay. But, as UW head coach Bo Ryan knows all too well, basketball is a game of runs, and Wisconsin's run was more than due.
The Badgers capitalized off of a 12-0 late in the second half to put the Phoenix away, en route to a 77-57 victory.
"We took advantage of some opportunities," Ryan said. "It's the 3-point line, it's substituting, it's combos on the floor sometimes, there's a lot of things, but runs in basketball, they're just common."
And it was another run that UW-Green Bay head coach Tod Kowalczyk believed made the difference in the game.
While it appeared as if the game would go into halftime almost deadlocked, the Badgers (8-2) went on a 8-2 run to close out the first half with a score of 39-32. Three-pointers by Tim Jarmusz and Trevon Hughes aided this run, as well as some mistakes by the Phoenix.
"We made some mental mistakes defensively and gave up two 3s to end the half," Kowalcyzk said. "Go down by seven at halftime instead of getting a stop and maybe taking the lead at halftime. I thought that was a big momentum change right there."
But it was Hughes' play that made the difference for the Badgers. He scored nine points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Hughes' ability to penetrate to the lane helped Wisconsin jumpstart its offense after a lackluster offensive night versus Idaho State earlier in the week and was evident by the Badgers' 26-12 point advantage in the paint.
"(Hughes) did a great of getting into the paint," Kowalcyzk said. "We didn't do a very good job of staying in front of him and I thought he made a lot of plays against us."
However, it ultimately came down to defense that helped the Badgers put the game away. Defensive pressure on UW-Green Bay (6-3) was instrumental in Wisconsin's second half run, as the Phoenix was stuck on 47.
"Just being aggressively defensively led us to a 12-0 run," Landry said. "And it was a plus for us as we were able to pull away in the game."
Wisconsin now has a week off before playing Coppin State. While the players will be kept busy during finals week, there's still plenty of areas for the Badgers to improve upon as Big Ten conference play nears.
"There's always room improvement," Landry said.