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Wisconsin women’s basketball: UW notches season opening win on Sunday

Sophomore Sydney Hilliard scored a career-high 24 points and led the Badgers to a win over Western Illinois.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 19 Women’s Maryland at Wisconsin
Sydney Hilliard had a monster game against the Leathernecks.
Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After their season opener against the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks was postponed due to Covid-19 protocols, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team (1-0) secured an opening 73-66 win, their fourth straight season opening win, against the Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-1) on Sunday.

Sophomore Sydney Hilliard led UW with a career-high 24 points and eight rebounds. Junior Imani Lewis was the Badgers’ second-leading scoring with 13 points and seven rebounds while sophomore Sara Stapleton posted a double-double — the first of her career — with 11 points and 11 boards.

Both teams shot only 36 percent from the field, but head coach Jonathan Tsipis hopes things will change and was happy with the opening performance.

“I was really pleased with how we got out of the gates offensively. You didn’t see it today but Julie [Pospisilova] and Estella [Moschkau] have shot it really well in the preseason and we’re hoping that will open things up more for Imani [Lewis] and Sara [Stapleton] inside. We got a little bit of everything,” Tsipis said.

Defensively, the Badgers filled up the stat sheet. UW had six blocks, forced 24 turnovers and got 13 steals as sophomore Julia Pospíšilovà had a career-high of six all by herself.

While there could be some improvements in the shooting and protecting the ball — Wisconsin turned the ball over 17 times themselves — Tsipis was very pleased with Sydney Hilliard’s big day and knows he’ll need her to perform for the team to reach their goals.

“Syd understands that we need that scorer and that person who can attack. It helps everybody. It gets our shooters open and it gets Imani and Sara better looks inside. I thought she was really good right from the very start,” Tsipis said.

Some other game notes from UW:

  • Seeing their first action in Badger uniforms were senior transfer Estella Moschkau and freshmen Brooke Schramek, Kate Thompson and Lovisa Djurström. Moschkau tied her career high with seven points while adding career highs for rebounds (five), assists (three) and blocks (two). Schramek had two points, three rebounds and two assists. Thompson pulled down one rebound while Djurström played less that one minute.
  • Hilliard tied her career high by making 10 field goals while taking a career-high 19 attempts. She also played a career-high 37 minutes.
  • Pospisilova also pulled down a career-high seven rebounds.

Next up, Wisconsin will kick off the Big Ten season against the Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0) on Saturday, Dec. 5.