Madison (WKOW) -- from UW-Madison: The pressure was on for the Wisconsin women's basketball team and the Badgers responded in the final seconds of its opening game at the Paradise Jam.
After losing an 11-point lead in the second half and trailing for more than 10 minutes late in the second half, the Badgers took the lead back won in the final minute, 47-45 against Villanova to improve to 3-1 on the season.
The Wildcats drop to 2-2.
Wisconsin trailed by two points with 1:26 left in the game but a 3-pointer by Alyssa Karel gave the Badgers the lead back at 44-43.
Villanova attempted to take the lead but Laura Kurz missed a layup with 36 seconds remaining and freshman forward Anya Covington grabbed the board to give the Badgers the ball.
Villanova fouled Rae Lin D'Alie three times to get into the bonus and D'Alie delivered, making two free throws.
The Wildcats pulled within one at 46-45 with 12 seconds left after a layup by Tia Grant but D'Alie made one-of-two free throws with 10 seconds left and the Badgers stuck to their defense and forced a missed layup by Grant to end the game.
"The guards came up when they had to," UW head coach Lisa Stone said. "These are veteran guards and Rae Lin is our leader out there and she sets the tone defensively. She struggled shooting wise but the ones she made at the end are the ones that counted from the free throw line. Alyssa's three was an icebreaker; it put us back in the lead. I thought we controlled the first half, finished a little sluggish when they came back in to only be down by five but I thought we came out in the second half with good energy and good intensity and made the shots when we needed to at the end."
Covington had her best game of the season and finished two points away from her first double-double.
She grabbed a career high 10 rebounds and finished with eight points (which ties her career high), all of which came in a five and a half minute stretch in the second half.
She also finished with one block.
"We knew we could score inside it was just a matter of how we were going to get in there and to find out who would do it for us. Anya really stepped up to the challenge," Stone said. "She's getting better all the time defensively; offensively she rebounded like a crazy girl in there. She had 10 boards, really got after it and gave us a presence inside. We were stagnant; in the second half and couldn't get any rhythm going offensively. I tell you want, we stayed with that intensity all game and it was a great win over a great team."
Wisconsin finished 16-of-45 for the game and shot 35.6 percent.
Villanova shot 33.3 percent for the game but after struggling at 21.1 percent in the first half, shot 42.3 percent in the second half.
Alyssa Karel led the Badgers with 12 points and D'Alie added eight points and three assists.
Karel also grabbed seven rebounds for Wisconsin while D'Alie had five boards.
Wisconsin out-rebounded Villanova, 34-31.
Freshman Ashley Thomas got her first career start and scored six points, had six rebounds and a steal.
Three Wildcats finished in double figures with Lisa Karcic and Grant scoring 11 points and Heather Scanlon added 10 points.
The Badgers shot 33.3 percent from the 3-point line and were led by two 3-pointers from Karel.
Villanova, who made 11 3-pointers against the Badgers last year in its win during the WNIT, finished 6-20 from beyond the arc, but made five three's in the second half to finish at 30 percent for the game.
After struggling at the free throw line the first three games, Wisconsin made them when it counted today and finished 10-14.
Villanova went 9-16 for 56.3 percent. D'Alie finished 3-of-4 and they all came in the final minute of the game.
Wisconsin finished with nine assists and 14 turnovers.
Villanova turned the ball over 11 times in the first half but just once in the second half and finished with 10 assists, nine of which came in the second half.
Villanova opened up the game with a three pointer at 18:08 but that was the last points it scored until a Grant free throw at the 7:40 mark.
Wisconsin went on an 11-0 run during that stretch but also had a hard time finding the bucket and was held scoreless for almost eight minutes in the first half.
Villanova pulled within five at 15-10 but Wisconsin went on a quick 4-0 run which included a 3-pointer by Mariah Dunham and a free throw by Jade Davis to go up 19-10 with under four minutes left in the half.
The Wildcats managed to outscore Wisconsin 5-1 the rest of the way but the Badgers took the 20-15 lead into half time.
Both teams shot below 30 percent in the first half with Wisconsin going 6-22 for 27.3 percent and Villanova finished the half 4-19 for 21.1 percent.
Wisconsin took control early in the second half, scoring six straight and took its biggest lead of the game at 26-15.
That run was short-lived though and Villanova out-scored the Badgers 18-5 to take its first lead of the game at 33-31.
Villanova connected on four 3-point attempts during that stretch.
The Wildcats hung onto the close lead down the stretch and were up three at 40-37 until a Covington jumper and D'Alie layup gave the Badgers the lead back at 41-40.
Villanova took the lead one last time with one more 3-pointer to put the score at 43-41 but Karel responded with her three and helped the Badgers win the game in the final minute.