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Wisconsin women’s basketball: UW loses to No. 13 Michigan, but there were positive takeaways

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The Badgers are improving. Very slowly, but they are.

Wisconsin v Maryland
Julie Pospisilova scored in double figures for the eighth straight game on Thursday night.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team (2-8 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) opened conference play at home on Thursday night but was unable to bring home their first Big Ten win of the year, falling 93-81 to No. 13 Michigan (9-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten). Although the Badgers suffered a loss for the fourth straight game, there were plenty of positive takeaways from this contest.

Coming into the game, Michigan was allowing an average of 54.3 points per game. The Badgers scored a season-high 81 points in the loss, surpassing their previous high of 67. Prior to Thursday, the most points Michigan had allowed in a game was 70 on the road against No. 10 Louisville, their only loss of the season.

Wisconsin fought for all 40 minutes. The Badgers trailed by 19 points heading into the fourth quarter and it would have been very easy for the women to play a very lackadaisical final 10 minutes and look forward to Sunday’s contest with the Green Bay Phoenix (4-4, 2-2 Horizon).

Similar to the men’s team on Wednesday vs. Indiana, the women fought until the final buzzer went off. Although it did not result in a win, the Badgers outscored Michigan by nine points in the final quarter, at one point cutting the lead to eight, and applied pressure throughout.

UW head coach Marisa Moseley recognized her team’s late effort in her post game press conference: “We talked a lot about our slow start, but the way that we are finishing games is just as important. It’s the most points and assists we we put up in a long time and I think we want to be able to continue to build.”

In my recap of Wisconsin’s loss to Northwestern, I mentioned that UW’s two biggest weaknesses are shooting and taking care of the basketball. Moseley must be an avid B5Q reader because on Thursday, UW shot the ball better than they have all season and committed significantly fewer turnovers than they did against Northwestern.

The Badgers shot 50% from the field and 38.9% from beyond the arc, both season highs. After turning the ball over 23 times in the Big Ten opener, Wisconsin only turned the basketball over 15 times versus Michigan. Still not where Moseley wants her team to be, but definitely an improvement.

Junior guard Julia Pospisilova notched double figures for the eighth consecutive game, leading the Badgers with a season-high 21 points, four assists and three rebounds. Three other Badgers reached double figures: Sydney Hilliard (16), Brooke Schramek (10), and Krystyna Ellew (18).

Getting Ellew involved in the Badger offense off of the bench is going to be key for this team moving forward. When the freshman is at her best, Moseley has a dynamic scoring option off the bench at her disposal that she can use to take some pressure off of her starters. In addition to 18 points, Ellew added six rebounds. The most impressive stat line of the night belonged to Hilliard, who added seven rebounds and seven assists to go along with her 16 points.

Not a win, but definitely a strong performance from the Badgers against the nation’s No. 13 ranked team. Once this team is able to put together a complete 40 minutes, there are going to be more check marks coming in the win column.

In other Wisconsin women’s basketball news, freshman guard Maty Wilke has opted to redshirt the 2021-22 season while nursing a knee injury and will be back on the court for the Badgers next season.

Next up for Wisconsin is a non-conference, in-state rivalry game vs. the Green Bay Phoenix at the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.