UW women fall to Gophers in B1G opener - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW women fall to Gophers in B1G opener

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MADISON, Wis. -- A last-minute offensive surge left the Wisconsin women's basketball team looking for more time Sunday afternoon in a 60-55 Big Ten Conference loss to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
 
Wisconsin (8-7 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) kept Minnesota (12-4, 1-1) without a field goal in the final 4:18 of action and outscored the Gophers 13-6 over the final two minutes, but ran out of time to get the win.
 
The Badgers' late offensive charge was led by Morgan Paige, who scored 10 of her team-high 22 points in the final 4:33.
 
It was the sluggish first-half performance, both at the hoop and on the boards, that UW couldn't overcome.
 
"You've got to be aggressive," UW head coach Bobbie Kelsey said. "You can't play this game and be passive or bend over. You have to jump on it, dive on the ball. I don't think we did a very good job of that.
 
"We did get to the free throw line, which we were missing that. I think we could have attacked the basket a little bit better and not taken so many 3-pointers, but people are taking the shots that they know they can make and if we'd made a couple more, it might have been a different outcome."
 
In the first half of play, UW shot just 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from the floor, including a 1-of-10 (10 percent) performance from 3-point range, but headed into the halftime break only trailing the Gophers by 30-27.
 
The Gophers never relinquished their lead in the second half, matching the Badgers point for point and taking a 12-point lead (54-42) with 2:25 to go in the game.
 
A 3-pointer by Jacki Gulczynski with 20 seconds remaining put UW within four (59-55) but the clock ran out on the Badgers' comeback.
 
UW limited Minnesota's top scorer, Rachel Banham, to just nine points well below her Big Ten-leading average of 21.4 points per game. All nine of her points coming at the charity stripe as she was 0-of-10 from the field.
 
It was a performance UM head coach Pam Borton attributed to tough UW defense.
 
"I think every time she got in the lane, (Banham) had two people on her," Borton said. "I thought they clogged the lane on her extremely well and then left other people open for shots. But I thought they had a great defensive effort against her."
 
Stopping Banham was a small piece of the game the Badgers could take pride in said Kelsey.
 
"There are aspects in this game that I'm very proud of the team about," Kelsey responded when asked about Banham's limited role in the outcome. "We're growing, learning and understanding. You have to scheme and take away the most important pieces they have and then hopefully we can succeed on our end scoring wise and taking care of the ball."
 
UW finished the afternoon 16-of-52 (31.4 percent) from the floor, including a 7-of-20 (35 percent) performance from 3-point range. The Badgers were 16-of-20 (80 percent) from the free throw line, their second-best performance of the season.
 
Paige led all scorers with 22 points and Gulczynski added 19 to pace the Badgers' offense. Tiera Stephen dished out six assists and swiped three balls.
 
The Gophers hit just 39.3 percent (22-of-56) of their shots, including just 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from deep. Micaella Riche (14) and Kayla Hirt (12) led Minnesota in double figures.
 
Wisconsin forced 19 Minnesota turnovers, scoring 20 points off of the giveaways, while giving the ball up 16 times.
 
Minnesota won the battle on the boards, outrebounding UW 44-29, and down low, scoring 24 points in the paint. Banham finished with a game-high 10 rebounds while the Badgers were led by Cassie Rochel and Gulczynski with six boards apiece.
 
The Badgers continue league play at the Kohl Center on Thursday, Jan. 10 when they welcome Iowa to Madison. Tip time is at 7:30 p.m. and the game will air live on the Big Ten Network.
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