After trailing at halftime, Western Kentucky got hot from the field and ultimately pulled off the upset against the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday afternoon in an 83-76 win at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky.
Wisconsin’s leading scorers—redshirt sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice and redshirt senior forward Ethan Happ—both struggled from the field overall. Trice scored only 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting—1-of-6 from three-point range—while Happ only connected on nine of 23 attempts on way to 20 points.
In light of Happ and Trice’s respective rough outings, sophomore guard Brad Davison picked up the pace in scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting (3-of-6 from three-point range). He also brought down four rebounds and tallied four steals as well.
As a team overall, Wisconsin shot 45.6 percent from the field (31 of 68)—44.4 percent (16 of 36) in the second half, while Western Kentucky connected on over two-thirds of its shots in the final 20 minutes.
The three-point shots did not drop for Wisconsin in Kentucky on Saturday night as well, as the team only made six of 21 attempts from deep (28.6 percent).
Western Kentucky (7-6) shot 55.2 percent from the field for the game and out-rebounded the Badgers 38-31. The Conference USA squad also dished out 19 assists, compared to UW’s nine.
Four of five starters scored in double figures for the Hilltoppers, with those four also shooting at or above 50 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth led the way with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting while true freshman center Charles Bassey created a presence in the paint, scoring 19 points with six rebounds and four blocks.
Sophomore guard Josh Anderson scored 15 points in making six of 12 field goal attempts, and redshirt junior guard/forward Jared Savage tallied 16 points (6-of-12 shooting) with five rebounds.
Though not reaching double digits on the scoreboard, freshman guard Dalano Banton almost recorded a triple-double against the Badgers—registering eight points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
Wisconsin led 34-30 at the half, but Western Kentucky got hot in the final 20 minutes in hitting 67.9 percent (19 of 28) of its shots in the second half.
Savage’s layup with 17:47 remaining tied the game at 38-38, and 28 seconds later, Banton’s three-pointer gave Western Kentucky its first lead of the second half.
That advantage would get up to five at one point, but Wisconsin whittled it down to a 47-46 deficit with 14:49 remaining after a Happ bucket.
Anderson’s layup with just over 13 minutes left in the game extended the lead back up to six for the Hilltoppers, but a 6-0 UW run tied it all up at 52 at the 12:05 mark after a Davison layup of his own.
Both teams traded threes, but an 8-0 run by Western Kentucky made it 63-55 with under 10 minutes remaining. Four quick Davison points cut the deficit in half, but another Hilltopper run—this time 6-0—pushed the advantage out to 10 at 69-59 with under six minutes left in the game.
Wisconsin again attempted to answer with a 6-0 run of its own to cut the WKU lead to four at 69-65 with under three minutes remaining. Davison scored four of those points and sparked the Badgers with two steals in that run as well.
That would be as close that the Badgers would get to the Hilltoppers, however, as Western Kentucky extended its lead to as much as 11 with 1:10 remaining in the game. UW made it a two-possession game twice with bringing the deficit down to six, but could not make the comeback.
With the Big Ten Conference schedule kicking back up after the New Year, Wisconsin will face Minnesota on Jan. 3 at the Kohl Center.