Youngsters fuel Badger women's win over Alabama - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Youngsters fuel Badger women's win over Alabama

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MADISON, Wis. — With leading scorer Taylor Wurtz out of the lineup for the second-straight game, the younger members of the Wisconsin women's basketball team stepped up and to play key roles in the Badgers' 69-50 win over previously undefeated Alabama on Saturday afternoon in the Kohl Center.
 
The Badgers (4-3) never trailed against the Tide, thanks in part to freshman guards Dakota Whyte and Nicole Bauman, who both registered career-highs in points with 13 and 11, respectively, and sophomore Jacki Gulczynski, who logged a career-high eight rebounds.
 
"I told them, because Taylor is not playing, we need two or three people to take up the slack," said head coach Bobbie Kelsey. "We are not asking one person to try and come out here and score 20 points, but if you get 10 here, eight there, 13 there from two or three other people that you are not expecting from, it is just going to make it better when Taylor can come back."
 
Wisconsin scored the first points of the game and never looked back, quickly running away from the Tide (5-1), jumping out to a 25-8 lead to start the first half and taking advantage of a stingy defense and some hot shooting.
 
In building their 35-17 halftime lead, the Badgers shot nearly 50 percent (14-for-31) in the first half—including 3-for-7 from behind the arc—while its zone defense limited the Crimson Tide offense to a season low 17 first-half points on just 16 percent (5-for-31) shooting.
 
Whyte led the Badgers in points in the first 20 minutes with nine points, including a successful contested layup at the buzzer that brought the home crowd to its feet.
 
The strong defensive effort continued in the second half, as the Tide went without a successful field goal until just over four minutes into the half. But, it was junior guard Morgan Paige that stepped up in the final half to secure the Wisconsin win.
 
After scoring three points on 1-of-9 shooting in the first half, Paige exploded in the second half with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting to finish with 24 points, which led all scorers.
 
Wisconsin's largest lead of the game was 30 points (52-22) with 14:01 to play , but the Tide were able to chip into that deficit by getting hot late from beyond the arc. After going without a made 3-point shot in the first half, Alabama shot 25 percent (5-for-20) from 3-point range in the second half. Three straight 3 pointers cut the UW lead to 65-47 with 2:01 to go but the Badgers never stopped scoring or playing defense.
 
"We had a great performance (today), other than our turnovers, but I'm not going to harp on that because I thought our kids really played well against a very aggressive team," said Kelsey, "an SEC team that you watch them on tape and you're like ‘Oh boy.'
 
"But they were cold and we were hot and we took advantage of that. I am very proud of … everybody in that locker room. They came together and played a great game."
 
The Badgers displayed a balanced offensive attack all afternoon against the Tide, with a total of eight players contributing to the offense, led by Paige, Whyte and Bauman in double figures. Gulczynski contributed seven points and Cassie Rochel registered six points.
 
Wisconsin set or tied a number of season highs against Alabama. The Badgers' 43.9 (25-of-57) shooting percentage tied a season best and their 50 percent (6-of-12) 3-point percentage, 59 rebounds and 17 assists established new season-highs. The 19-point margin of victory is also the Badgers' largest of the season.
 
Rochel pulled down a career-best 12 rebounds while senior Tiera Stephen added a career-high 11 boards. Gulczynski led all players with a career-high five assists.
 
The Badgers return to action Wednesday, Nov. 5, to renew its in-state rivalry with Marquette. Tip-off for that game is at 7 p.m. at the Kohl Center.
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