Anu. That's "cold" in Hawaiian. And that's excactly what the Badgers were down the stretch in their 74-61 loss to Gonzaga Tuesday night in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the Bulldogs' starters were hot for most of the night and scored 67 of the team's 74 points, including a team-high 18 points from Matt Bouldin. Gonzaga consistently pushed UW out of their game and got easy fast break baskets -- a big reason why the Zags made 48 percent of its field goals.
But despite Gonzaga controlling the tempo for most of the night, the Badgers creeped back into the game late before falling into a late drought that proved to be the dagger.
After a Jon Leuer putback cut the Gonzaga lead to 60-54 with 7:54 left in the game, UW did not hit a field goal until they were down 17 with 1:34 left in the game. It was a stretch that featured poor shot selection and a 14-4 run by the Zags. UW missed seven shots in that time period -- including five threes.
Of course that wasn't the only stretch in which the Badgers went cold. That was just stretch that cost them a chance at a comeback. UW was playing from behind because of a six minute period in the first half in which it didn't hit a field goal and gave up a 13-5 run. A one-point deficit became a 32-23 Gonzaga lead in a hurry and left Wisconsin in catch-up mode the rest of the night.
There were a lot of things one could pick on Tuesday night but two common themes were poor shot selection and the failure to hit wide open shots.
Down seven with 1:45 left in the first half, UW had the ball but freshman Ryan Evans took a bad shot from the baseline and airballed it. Bouldin then hit a three just seconds later and UW trailed by 10 at the half. Evans didn't play much after that and failed to score a point.
Then to open the second half, Keaton Nankivil missed a wide open dunk that would have cut the lead to eight and sent an emphatic message to Gonzaga that UW wasn't going anywhere. Instead, Elias Harris threw down a dunk on the other end of the court and put the Zags up 12.
Over the next two minutes, Nankivil missed a wide open 15-footer and a wide open three. That's seven points left off the scoreboard.
Eventually Wisconsin worked itself back into the game by feeding the ball to Leuer in the point. The junior forward was hot, hitting 8-of-17 shots to finish with 18 points.
That's why it's hard to fathom why five of the seven shots UW missed in its crucial six minute second half drought were three point attempts. Instead of continuing to feed Leuer, the Badgers started shooting lower percentage shots and eventually Leuer moved out of the post.
Considering UW only hit 5-of-24 three-point attempts, it was a recipe for disaster. Jason Bohannon ended up hitting only 1-of-7 threes, while Tim Jarmusz went 0-for-2 from the behind the arc and Nankivil and Leuer each missed three 3-point attempts as well. UW is now shooting only 24 percent from behind the arc this season.
One bright spot was the play of sophomore guard Jordan Taylor who scored a career high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Wisconsin will now face Maryland at 3:30 p.m. CT Wednesday in the third place game. The game can be seen on ESPN2.