Despite numerous comeback attempts in the second half, the Wisconsin womens basketball team was unable to overcome Michigan State, falling 59-50 Sunday.
Michigan State, led by Lykenda Johnsons 14 points, used its size against the Badgers, creating points in the paint and problems for the UW offense. The Badgers gave up 22 turnovers on the day, something head coach Lisa Stone touched on as a key from the game.
Twelve in the first half is simply too many, said Stone on Wisconsins turnovers. I told our team that were undefeated when we commit less than 15 turnovers, and thats something well continue to strive for and get better at and hopefully handle that pressure better next time.
Despite the teams turnover struggles, Stone thought the Badgers played well and executed on defense.
I thought we came in here in a tough environment and did a great job embracing what was here and not getting nervous about it, Stone said. I thought we were stellar defensively.
Junior forward Mariah Dunham, who had 14 points on the afternoon, led the Badgers while sophomore guard Alyssa Karel had 13. The game was Karels 18th of the year in double figures. Sophomore Tara Steinbauer sparked the Badgers from the bench, scoring eight.
Also contributing to the Wisconsin offense were sophomore forward Lin Zastrow with seven, freshman forward Anya Covington with five and freshman guard Jade Davis with three in her first start as a Badger.
The Badgers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead off layups from Karel and Zastrow, and a 3-point basket by Dunham at the 17:23 mark. The Badgers then went scoreless until a layup by Tara Steinbauer at 11:56, tying the game at 9-9.
After the Badgers tied up the Spartans 12-12 with 9:27 left in the first half, Michigan State went on a 7-2 run over the next 5:10 to lead 22-14. Karels layup brought the game within 22-16 for the Badgers, and Wisconsin's rally continued with a 3-pointer from Davis and a layup by Steinbauer to bring the score to 22-21 at 2:08.
The Spartans Brittney Thomas hit a jumper with 1:36 remaining in the first half and the Badgers and Spartans went into the locker room with MSU leading 24-21. Both teams were able to execute inside in the first half, with Wisconsin scoring 14 in the paint and Michigan State 12.
Zastrow started the second half for the Badgers, making a layup at 18:56 and finding Dunham on the next possession under the basket to help the Badgers to a 25-24 lead. Using their ball pressure and inside presence, the Spartans responded with an 8-0 run to go ahead 32-25. Steinbauer again helped the Badgers off the bench, snapping their scoreless streak with a jumper at 15:31.
Trailing 38-30, the Badgers fought back with an 8-0 run. Covington made a basket and a free throw off a foul, followed by Karel hitting Dunham for a 3-pointer from the baseline to bring the game to 38-36, and later making a layup to tie the score at 38-38.
Michigan State took back the momentum with a 10-0 run of its own to lead 48-38. Karel again snapped the run with a steal leading to a jump shot, including a free throw off a foul, to bring the Badgers within 48-41.
The Badgers again tried to come back as Dunham went on to hit back-to-back 3-point baskets, pulling the Badgers within two at 49-47 at 4:38. Michigan State responded to the comeback attempt, stretching the lead to 57-50 with 47 seconds remaining and adding two free throws with 35 seconds left to provide the final margin.
Overall, I thought they battled really well, said Stone. Weve got to shoot the ball a little better certainly, and get ourselves in position to be there at the end. I thought we did that for the most part.
The Wisconsin womens basketball team returns to action Thursday night against Purdue at the Kohl Center, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.