Badger women earn first Big Ten win with decisive victory - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Badger women earn first Big Ten win with decisive victory

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MADISON (WKOW) -- It had been a while -- 12 years and 20 games to be exact -- but the Badgers did what seemed impossible Sunday afternoon, defeating Ohio State. Wisconsin used a strong second half to earn a commanding 68-49 win over the Buckeyes at the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon.
 
It was a much needed win for the Badgers, who pick up their first Big Ten Conference win of the season after losing six straight, and for head coach Bobbie Kelsey, it was a win that says a lot about the team.
 
"To beat a team of Ohio State's caliber really says a lot about the kids and their perseverance, to stick with it in spite of the circumstances and the adversity," said Kelsey.
 
"I just give them all of the credit because it's easy to be down when you're losing, but they kept their spirits up, stuck together and made sure that no one strays away from the pact. We just have to have a gang mentality and come out fighting and that's what we did tonight."
 
Following the first 20 minutes of action, Ohio State (11-8, 1-5) held a 29-25 edge over the Badgers, but Wisconsin (9-10, 1-5) had already begun showing signs of what was to come in the second half.
 
Wisconsin closed out the first half on a 4-0 run on four-straight free throws by Morgan Paige. Paige continued her team-leading performance in the second half, hitting a 3-pointer 30 seconds into the period to bring the score within one. Another 3 pointer by Paige at the 18:55 mark, tied the game at 31.
 
When Ohio State attempted to shut Paige down, it opened the door for Jacki Gulczynski and Cassie Rochel to make their impacts on the game. All of Gulczynski's 14 points and Rochel's eight points were scored in the second half.
 
A block and a rebound by Rochel turned into a jumper by Gulczynski and a 44-33 Wisconsin lead with 13:53 remaining.
 
Another Gulczynski jumper pushed the Badgers' lead to 50-36 with just over 10 minutes to go and a jumper in the paint by Rochel gave the Badgers a 16-point, 62-46, lead with under five minutes remaining. A final exclamation point -- in the form of a jumper by Tiera Stephen with 37 seconds to go -- gave Wisconsin the 19-point, 68-49, win.
 
Paige finished with 28 points, one off a career best, going 11-for-11 at the free throw line. Rochel notched a career-high 14 rebounds to go with her eight points and dished out a career-best five assists. Gulczynski finished the night with 14 points, playing all 40 minutes.
 
Stephen put on a show for the Badgers, finishing with 10 points, eight assists and four rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Rochel and Paige also recorded 40 minutes of action.
 
Playing four Badgers for the entire 40 minutes was a strategy that Kelsey had to try.
 
"You go with people you know have the experience, understand the offense and understand the defense," explained Kelsey.
 
"It's not that I don't want to sub, but it's hard when these folks are doing the job. Why sub and put somebody in a situation where they are not quite sure what to do? They know what to do. Some games you're going to get some time and other games you're not. That's the way it goes. You're trying to get a win, so you're trying to do what's best for the team. I'm sure those that didn't play would say, `We don't care. We won.' That's how our team operates."
 
Wisconsin used tough defense to put a stop to the league's leading scorer, Tayler Hill, to 16 points, nearly five points below her season average. Heading into Sunday's game, Hill led the league with an average of 20.9 points per game.  Ashley Adams added 11 points for Ohio State while adding a game-high 15 rebounds.
 
The Badgers tied a school record by shooting a perfect 15-of-15 from the line and finished the game shooting 47.1 percent (24-of-51) from the floor. Wisconsin shot 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field in the second half.
 
The Buckeyes shot 16-of-47 (34 percent) from the floor, including just 5-of-25 (20 percent) in the second half, and went 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) from the charity stripe.
 
Both teams recorded 29 rebounds while UW dished off 17 assists and tallied just 12 turnovers. OSU had 12 assists and 18 turnovers.
 
Wisconsin continues Big Ten play with a road trip to Iowa City, Iowa, on Thursday, Jan. 24, to play the Hawkeyes. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

 

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