Badgers top Illinois in high-energy win

Badgers top Illinois in high-energy win
Lewis leads Wisconsin to victory with fifth consecutive double-double

Credit Source: University of Wisconsin Athletics

MADISON, Wis. — It took a team effort but the Wisconsin women’s basketball team finally won its first Big Ten Conference game with a 69-57 win over Illinois on Sunday afternoon in the Kohl Center.

Thirteen Badgers (4-11, 1-11 B1G) saw the court in a high-energy performance on both offense and defense for the Badgers. Wisconsin held Illinois (2-10, 0-9) to an opponent season-low 28.8% (19-66) from the field, while UW shot 40.3% (27-67). The Badgers also outrebounded the Illini 50-40, UW’s highest single-game rebounding total since the first game of the season. Illinois went to the free-throw line 23 times, making 15 for 65.2% while the Badgers shot 8-13 from the charity stripe for 61.5%.

Three players scored in double figures behind 22 points from Imani Lewis. The 6-foot-1 forward recorded her fifth-straight double-double, pulling down a game-high 16 rebounds, including six offensive boards, which tied her career best. Sophomore Sydney Hilliard added 18 points while Estella Moschkau chipped in 12 points, shooting 4-5 of 3-point range. Wisconsin scored 36 points in the paint and 15 second-chance points.

Wisconsin trailed 17-16 at the end of the first quarter but turned up its game in the second quarter.  A bucket by Lewis only 12 seconds into the quarter kicked off an 18-1 run as the Badgers outscored Illinois 20-5 in the period. The Illini shot just 6.7% (1-15) from the field for the period. Hilliard led the Badgers with 12 points at the break.

Coming out of halftime with a 36-22 lead, Wisconsin continued to play scrappy, team defense, holding Illinois to 16 points in the third period to lead 57-38 after three quarters.

Wisconsin gained its biggest lead of the game when Mosckau hit a 3-pointer just 29 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Badgers up by 22 points (60-38). Illinois would cut the lead to 13 (62-49) with 4:21 to play but that was a close as it would get until a last-second triple by the Illini. Illinois used a tenacious full-court press to get back into the game, forcing seven turnovers by the Badgers in the period.

The Badgers dished off 16 assists, including six from Julie Pospisilova ,which tied her career high.

Straight from the court

Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis:
“I’m so happy for our team. It’s obviously been a rough road since we’ve been back from Christmas. And you know, we’re working every day in practice. I think they’re learning. We’re very young and each game, we’re pulling things out. I think we’re doing things better. Rebounding especially. I think over the last couple of games and being able to put those things together. Our defensive performance in the second quarter really helped, being able to gain that momentum. We went with a little bit different lineup at times today. We stayed a little bit smaller. But again, I’m proud of our kids because this is obviously been a long time waiting.

“To get a Big Ten win most importantly, I think we got better. I think that’s our goal every day. I think they did a really good job of being unselfish. I work in there’s a lot of jump balls Force tonight. I appreciate that hustle that our kids diving on the floor not giving up on plays and then yeah, obviously Imani (Lewis) had a spectacular game with 22 points and 16 rebounds (and) Syd (Hilley) with with eight rebounds from the guard spot.

“I told them enjoy this because Big Ten wind are hard to get and you need to be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

Junior Forward Imani Lewis
“As Coach Tsip said, is that we’ve been working so hard and it really hasn’t been showing but, I think it hurts us even more that we should have won more games than we have now. I continue to tell them let’s use that as motivation. It’s always like we either have a bad first quarter or a bad third quarter. It’s always like one bad quarter and I’m like, how about let’s have a good four quarters. I try to explain that it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be hard but let’s not keep making the same mistake. I was very proud of everyone because we didn’t let them get going and I think that was a key factor for us with a going into the game.

“I think that we’re finally seeing the hard work paying off. People are in the gym working behind the scenes, trying to do the extra work. We’re reaping the benefits now and like I told them, if you keep putting the work in, it’s going to show. But I think a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders because we are now seeing the benefits of them putting in the extra work and time.”

Sophomore guard Sydney Hilliard
“I think we did a really good job of doing a bunch of the little things like coach said getting on the floor boxing out and I thought we did a really good job after rebounding pushing the floor and looking to get those easy transition shots.

“Finally this happens and now it kind of feels like all right, ‘now let’s go play basketball again.’ We got that Big Ten win. But I think we just got to use this as it’s a win. Be happy with it, but kind of use that and push forward with it.”

Badger Notables

  • On the day that she was presented with a commemorative ball recognizing her 1,000 career points, junior Imani Lewis went off in the game scoring a season-high 22 points, just one off her career high, and pulling down 16 rebounds, tying her career best. The 6-foot-1 forward also added one assist and one steal.
  • Senior Estella Moschkau made a career-best four 3-pointers, shooting 4-5 from deep. The pulled down a career-high six rebounds.
  • The Badgers win their first Big Ten game of the season, snapping a nine-game losing streak.
  • Sophomore Julie Pospisilova tied her career high with six assists.
  • Freshman Halle Douglass pulled down a career best six rebounds. She also added six points, taking a career-high six field goal attempts, while adding three assists and tying her career high with one steal.

Up next
Wisconsin looks to continue its momentum into the week as it travels to College Park, Maryland, on Thursday to take on the seventh-ranked Terrapins. Tip time is 3 p.m. live on the Big Ten Network.

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