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Second-half woes: Badgers struggle in second half and fall at Alabama

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Wisconsin Wisconsin 62, Alabama 70
 Foster Auditorium • Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Attendance: 1,229

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1st 2nd Final
38 24 62
33 37 70
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 Statistical Leaders
 • Morgan Paige: 28 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 6-15 FG
 • Jacki Gulczynski: 15 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Blks, 6-9 FG
 • Taylor Wurtz: 7 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 3-7 FG
 Stats at a Glance
 FG Percentage .404 .338
 3-Point FG Percentage .304 .286
 FT Percentage .100 .818
 Offensive Rebounds 9 19
 Defensive Rebounds 28 22
 Total Rebounds 37 41
 Assists 14 11
 Blocks 4 1
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Nov. 21,  2013

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –  Despite controlling the first half and taking a 38-33 lead into the locker room, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team struggled to score in the second half and fell at Alabama, 70-62, on Thursday night.

“We didn’t do anything really well tonight except Morgan (Paige) and she needed some help,” said UW coach Bobbie Kelsey. “It’s just disheartening. We just didn’t play with the energy and the heart that we think we have. It’s coming together and everybody playing well at the same time.”

The Badgers (3-1) were in control in the first half and led by as many as 13 points (38-25) with 1:23 to play.  But the Crimson Tide went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 38-33 at the half. 

 Fast Facts
Morgan Paige scored a season-high 28 points
• Paige went 13-of-13 from the free throw line
• UW returns to action on Nov. 29-30

Wisconsin shot 53.8 percent (14-26) in the period, including 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from three-point range while holding Alabama to just 31 percent (13-of-42).

Alabama (1-3) continued its run in the second half, scoring the first six points of the period to take a 39-38 lead with 16:34 to play. The Badgers missed their first nine shots of the second half and didn’t score until Jacki Gulczynski hit a jumper with 13:05 remaining.

The Tide upped its lead to 51-42 with 8:04 remaining, outscoring the Badgers 26-4 over a 13-minute stretch, beginning late in the first half.

“We didn’t play defense, we let people kind of do what they want,” said Kelsey. “We made some adjustments, maybe it was too late on my part. We went in a zone, we went player, we went 2-3 zone and 3-2 zone. I felt like we would have got in more foul trouble if we would have guarded them one-on-one because they are a quick team.”

Wisconsin cut the lead to four (61-57) as Morgan Paige made four free throws and hit a 3-pointer with 2:17 to play.

A jumper by Nikki Hegstetter followed by two free throws by Daisha Simmons put the Crimson Tide back up 65-57 with 48 seconds remaining. Another Paige 3-pointer cut the lead to five (65-60) with 37 seconds left but the Badgers were forced to foul.

Alabama went to the line, going 3-of-6 over the final 31 seconds but Wisconsin couldn’t take advantage of the misses, turning the ball over twice and falling for the first time this season.

The Badgers shot just 26.9 percent (7-of-26) for the second half, including 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from behind the arc, to finish the game at 40.4 percent.  Wisconsin shot better than the Crimson Tide, which made just 33.8 percent (23-of-68) of its shots.

“It’s the same story, we missed a lot of easy shots around the basket,” said Kelsey. “Our problem is the rebounding, we did not box out. We worked on it all week and that is what makes it even more disheartening because it is something we emphasize and work on and we don’t do it very well.

“We did a better job in the second half but by that time it was too late. The idea of us not boxing out makes a team even more hungry to get the ball.”

Paige finished with a game-high 28 points while Gulczynski added 15 points, marking the first time this season that only two players tallied 10-or-more points for UW. Taylor Wurtz led the Badgers with nine rebounds.

“Morgan is a smart player but she had to play the whole game,” said Kelsey. “I couldn’t take her out because she was really our only offensive threat on the perimeter. People are making the shots harder than they have to be.”

Four players scored in double figures for the Crimson Tide, led by 18 from Ashley Williams. Williams also led Alabama with eight rebounds.

Free throws, rebounds and turnovers were the difference in the game.

Alabama went 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line while Wisconsin was 13-of-13, all by Paige. The Tide also outrebounded the Badgers, 41-37, including 19 offensive boards, which led to 15 second-chance points. The Badgers turned the ball over a season-high 19 times, keyed by nine Alabama steals as the Tide scored 18 points off turnovers.

Wisconsin returns to action on Nov. 29-30, competing in the Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament in Nashville. The Badgers open play on Nov. 29, taking on Mercer while the host Commodores face Elon in the other first-round game. The consolation and championship games will be held on Nov. 30.

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