Wisconsin falls 74-58 after big second half by Wildcats - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin falls 74-58 after big second half by Wildcats

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EVANSTON, Ill. – Normally, the Wisconsin women's basketball team is the better second-half team but that wasn't the case on Saturday as the Badgers dropped a 74-58 decision at Northwestern. UW was outscored 43-27 in the second period after being tied at 31-31 at the half.
 
"They were hitting shots," said UW head coach Bobbie Kelsey of the Wildcats (12-6, 2-3 Big Ten) in the second period. "We had some open shots too but the difference was they hit theirs. We tried every different defense we could think of but they still hit shots. (Northwestern) played hard and they cut hard but we just didn't execute the way we needed to."
 
After shooting just 36.4 percent (12-33) in the first half, the Wildcats shot 67.9 percent (19-28) in the second period to finish the game at 50.8 percent. They also hit 7-6 (43.8 percent) from 3-point range.
 
Wisconsin (9-8, 2-3) shot 44.4 percent (12-27) in the first period but managed just 34.5 percent (10-29) in the second to end the game hitting 39.3 percent. UW struggled behind the arc, shooting a season-low 22.2 percent (4-18).
 
The Badgers led by as many as eight points in the first half to control the game but the Wildcats battled back to tie the game at 31-31 heading into the break.
 
Northwestern opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 38-31 lead with 18:18 to play. Wisconsin slowly came back to knot the score at 46-46 with 11:10 remaining. After a Northwestern timeout, the Wildcats' Nia Coffey scored the next nine points to put NU up 55-46 with 9:09 left.
 
The Badgers cut the lead to seven (59-52) on a 3-pointer by Morgan Paige but that was as close as they would get.
 
"We didn't leave their lights-out shooters, Maggie Lyon is a very good shooter, but Nia Coffey got loose," Kelsey said. "To her credit, for a freshman, she's aggressive, she's fearless. She's a very good player. She's that kind of player but she has a lot of complimentary pieces and they do a nice job of getting her the ball."
 
Coffey was one of three Wildcat players that finished with 17 points. Fellow freshman Christen Inman and sophomore Lauren Douglas also chipped in with 17.
 
Wisconsin had only two players in double figures. Junior Michala Johnson led all players with a career-high 32 points while Taylor Wurtz added 13 points. Both pulled down 10 rebounds to record double-doubles in the game. 
 
"To her credit, (Johnson) used her left hand tonight, she showed that she can go the other direction," said Kelsey. "She showed a lot of progression with what we want her to work on and hopefully she can keep that going and we can have some other people step up. You can't have two of your big four not scoring. She did her best tonight but we needed other people to step up and help."
 
Dakota Whyte was next in scoring for the Badgers, putting up five points as Paige finished with only three points while junior Jacki Gulczynski failed to score. 
 
The Badgers had one of their best rebounding games of the season, pulling down 41 boards, including 15 offensive. Northwestern finished with 26 rebounds.
 
Turnovers hurt UW as it had 23 giveaways while the Wildcats only gave the ball up 10 times. Northwestern had 10 steals and dished off 24 assists. Wisconsin had 14 dimes with five coming from Whyte.
 
The Badgers went to the free throw line 13 times, making 10 for 76.9 percent, while Northwestern was just 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from the charity stripe.
 
"We did outrebound them by quite a bit," Kelsey said. "We probably should have got to the free throw line a lot more than we did.
 
"We're just not consistent and I'm not sure why. It's something we're going to have to figure it out because it hurts us when we don't have those other people scoring. But our problem is defense, we have to play some defense."
 
The Badgers travel to Minnesota on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. tip from Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
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