Badgers notch first win of the season, 60-55 over Butler - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers notch first win of the season, 60-55 over Butler

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MADISON, Wis. (Per UW Athletics)  – Any victory is sweet but the inaugural victory of the Jonathan Tsipis era is even sweeter. First-year head coach Tsipis and the Wisconsin women’s basketball team clinched their first win of the 2016-17 season with a 60-55 triumph over Butler on Sunday afternoon in the Kohl Center.

"It's not at all about me. This is about the work that this team puts in and you want to see them have that success by finishing a game,” Tsipis said. “They get a limited time to do this, and to see them have that part of being successful, you know what, as a coach I want to win every game. I want them to win every game, but the most important part is, this is their win. It just happens to be my first one here at Wisconsin. But I think for them, again like Avy (Young) said, let's build off this momentum, and move forward."

Trailing 39-37 headed into the fourth quarter after a buzzer-beating jumper from Young, UW (1-3) turned up the heat by taking advantage of getting into the bonus.

Sophomore Marsha Howard banked back-to-back free throws 40 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Badgers their first lead of the game (40-39) since the 4:54 mark in the second quarter (22-21).

From that point, UW relinquished the lead only once more in a game that saw Butler (2-2) ahead for nearly 27 minutes of the game.

Butler’s Kaela Hodges drove in for a layup that took back the Bulldogs’ lead 41-40 with 8:34 left in the game. But Young tied the game up for the fifth time with her first made free throw before giving UW the 42-41 lead with 6:50 to play. Young passed her career high with her next free throw over a minute later, tallying 10 made free throws on the day.

But it was two freshmen that helped secure the biggest Badgers’ lead of the game. Kendra Van Leeuwen sunk a perfect shot from beyond the arc to put the Badgers ahead 46-41 (4:51). Less than 30 seconds later, Gabby Gregory took advantage of a Butler turnover and nailed another 3-pointer to push the Badgers ahead by eight points, 49-41, with a little more than four minutes to go.

The Bulldogs went on a 4-0 run in the fourth minute but sophomore Cayla McMorris stepped up right when the Badgers needed her. McMorris put in seven of eight free throws in the last three minutes to help the Badgers secure 11 of 14 shots from the courtesy stripe over the final stretch.

"I think it's important that when we are subbing late in the game and we're trying to put a press offense team in, that we can stretch the floor,” Tsipis added. “That if they do foul away, that they'll step up and I think that's what I told Cayla afterwards.

“Whether she took it out or came to the ball, we put them in a tough situation because even though she hasn't made a field goal, she's shooting 90 percent from the free-throw line on the year. As a coach, you want to be able to put people in that situation and know it doesn't matter what has happened in the first 37 or 38 minutes, that's a very controllable act.”

Gregory had one of the final 14 free throws while Van Leeuwen had three, including the final one that secured the Badgers’ 58-55 outcome.

Gregory had herself quite the day, sealing a career-high 15 points after shooting a career-best 4-of-6 from the 3-point line. She had back-to-back triples in less than a minute in the second quarter to help the Badgers push out to a 22-17 (5:24) lead.

"It's really important to me to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that coach is giving me and to help my teammates and be the burst of energy they might need or just do whatever I have to do to help the team be successful,” Gregory said. “That's the only thing on my mind."

Wisconsin had 17 turnovers compared to Butler’s 21.

UW saw major contributions from its bench players, outdoing the Bulldogs 24-2 in bench points. Gregory led the bench and all Badgers with 15 points. Howard contributed nine points and a team-high six rebounds off the bench.

Butler outrebounded Wisconsin 35-31 but Young had a game-high nine boards for the Badgers.

The Badgers shot just 30.4 percent (14-46) from the field while the Bulldogs hit 34.7 percent (17-49), but won the game at the line.

UW shot a season-high 71 percent (27-38) from the free-throw line while McMorris drained a career-high 10 free throws off of a career-best 12 free-throw attempts. It was also the Badgers’ season high for free throws made and attempted. Butler was 18-25 (72 percent) from the line.

Wisconsin is back in action on the road as it travels to in-state rival Milwaukee on Tuesday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Klotsche Center.

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