It took an extra five minutes, but the sharp shooting Wisconsin Badgers (3-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) held on to beat the Valparaiso Crusaders (4-3 overall) 89-82 in overtime on Sunday afternoon.
Wisconsin got off to a fast start in the first quarter, holding a 22-14 lead thanks in large part to sophomore guard Julia Pospíšilovà. The Czech native scored 11 points in the first frame and scored a career-high 23 points in the game while also posting four blocks.
The @UPS "Play of the Game" from yesterday's win is a gem. Steal by @sydhilliard30 and a no-look pass to @Julpospisilova for the bucket. pic.twitter.com/kpDKFgtgqK— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) December 21, 2020
Despite the fast start, Valaparaiso didn’t go away, keeping the game within two possessions throughout most of the game. The Crusaders hit a Kohl Center record 14 three-pointers during the game. Greenville, Wis. native Shay Fredrick scored 27 points for the Crusaders including the game-tying jumper in the fourth quarter with one second to go, forcing the extra period.
But in that overtime, Wisconsin held Valpo to 1-for-10 from the field while relying on the experience of junior forward Imani Lewis and scoring of sophomore guard Sydney Hilliard to win the game.
Lewis scored five of UW’s nine points in the OT period and grabbed four boards, earning her third double double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Head coach Johnathan Tsipis felt Lewis’s veteran leadership and experience helped spur the good performance in OT.
“The younger kids were looking at how those veterans react. I think the younger kids fed off of her and I think that starts in the huddle as we headed into overtime,” Tsipis said.
Three players in double-figures.— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) December 21, 2020
Highlights of today's game?
Yes, please! pic.twitter.com/ZFxBtSpaef
Throughout the game, Wisconsin shot extremely well, which showed in overtime when UW went 4-for-8 from the field to ice the game away. The Badgers hit 53 percent from the field and a stunning 52 percent from beyond the arc, getting crucial points off the bench from guards Alex Luehring and Tara Stauffacher. Sydney Hilliard once again led the way in scoring for UW with 25 points on 10-for-17 from the field.
After the Badgers’ last out-of-conference game against Omaha scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, Wisconsin has a 10-day break before they’ll play the No. 19 Michigan Wolverines on New Year’s Eve.
With the close game and the strong shooting, coach Tsipis is hoping the Badgers can build on this experience.
“I’m just really happy for them to take this into the break,” Tsipis said.