Badgers women's basketball fall 96-68 to No. 14 Buckeyes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers women's basketball fall 96-68 to No. 14 Buckeyes

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MADISON, Wis. (Per UW Athletics) -- The Wisconsin women's basketball team fell behind early and couldn't power through the deficit, suffering a 96-68 loss to No. 14 Ohio State at the Kohl Center on Saturday afternoon.

Despite hitting a season-best 31-for-36 from the free throw line, Wisconsin (5-18, 0-10) couldn't fend off Ohio State's (21-5, 11-1) dominant offensive power.

"I think after we played the first time," UW head coach Jonathan Tsipis said, "and knowing (OSU coach) Kevin (McGuff) well, I think he knows that people around the country watch that score and using that to motivate them. 

"I think Kelsey Mitchell is too good of a player to allow her to go wherever she wants to go. I think she was 7-for-18 last time when we played against her, (including) she was 3-for-9 from the 3-point line. I felt about after the first five or six minutes, she just got to where she wanted to go and you could see that part of the collective effort and I think confidence of their team to put the ball on the ground and get to spots on the floor they wanted and they were very unselfish."

The Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, Mitchell put up 32 points, going 11-for-13 from the field while making 6-of-8 from behind the arc. Ohio State shot 47.1 percent (33-of-70) from the field while holding Wisconsin to 27.1 percent (16-of-59).

The Badgers struggled with shooting from the beginning, as the Buckeyes held a 6-0 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter. 

Two made free throws from Avyanna Young put UW on the board just over four minutes into the game, but 12 points from Mitchell on a 19-7 OSU run had the Badgers at a 25-11 deficit to end the first period.

The Buckeyes narrowly outscored Wisconsin 12-9 to begin the second quarter, with a pair of triples from Suzanne Gilreath cutting the OSU lead to 37-20 with under five minutes left in the second frame. OSU shot an even 50 percent from the field in the quarter, missing just two shots in the final four minutes to hold a 49-29 advantage at the half.

Ohio State widened its lead in the third, holding its largest lead of the game, 77-45 with 30 seconds on the clock, before a Gabby Gregory triple made the score 77-48 in quarter's final five seconds.

Wisconsin held the Buckeyes to a game-low 37.5 shooting percentage during the fourth quarter, as well as going a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. The Badgers outscored Ohio State 20-19 in the frame but couldn't overcome the deficit, trailing 96-68 at the final buzzer.

“As much as we would obviously love to have a win, you’re only given six more opportunities in the regular season and then a plus one in the Big Ten tournament," Tsipis said. "So it’s how do we learn from this, how do we learn from playing well and being in a tight game at Ohio State, that we got it to six and fought back from a bigger deficit in the third quarter, and then not get to where we want to today. All I can tell you is that’s continuing to take steps forward."

In the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 19, the Badgers fell 70-61 in Columbus. After trailing by 21 points early in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin cut the lead to just six points with just over one minute to play.

The Badgers' season-high 31 made free throws ranks sixth in Wisconsin history, while their 86.1 percent (31-of-36) from the line is the second-best free throw percentage of the season.

Junior Cayla McMorris shot a career high 14-for-14 from the line, ranking third all-time at UW for free-throw percentage in a single game. Wisconsin's record, 17-for-17, is held by both Michele Kozelka (vs. Green Bay, 12/5/89) and Keisha Anderson (vs. UC Santa Barbara, 11/30/96).

McMorris and Gilreath shared team-high honors with 14 points apiece, while Young added 11 points and Marsha Howard contributed nine.

Young and Ashley Kelsick each grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, while Kelsick dished out a game-high six assists.

Ohio State nabbed 15 steals to Wisconsin's four, as well as outblocking the Badgers 10-0. The Badgers and Buckeyes picked up 42 rebounds apiece.

OSU took better advantage of offensive rebounds, scoring 19 second-chance points compared to seven for Wisconsin. The Buckeyes also took advantage of 19 UW turnovers, scoring 31 points off giveaways.

“I know who we play next, I know who we have to prepare for but we need to have a good practice on Monday," Tsipis said. "We need to watch film and not make the same mistakes in practice that we made in the game today. I think when you start looking past that, you’re also looking at the understanding of maybe things that are right in front of you, you’re looking past and not putting enough emphasis on working hard to get better every day.”

Wisconsin returns to the Kohl Center court on Thursday, hosting Nebraska in a 7 p.m. tipoff.

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