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Wisconsin women’s basketball: UW beats Illinois State by 10

The Badgers got back in the win column on Thursday night thanks to some sharp shooting from Katie Nelson.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 16 Womens - Illinois State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Thursday night, conveniently scheduled at the same time at the women’s volleyball Final Four match, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team (3-9 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) hosted Illinois State (3-7 overall, 0-0 Missouri Valley) in a non-conference matchup. The Badgers were able to get back into the win column, taking home the victory 70-60.

The win was by far the most complete game the Badgers have played all season.

Sydney Hilliard made her return to the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s loss to Green Bay with a non-COVID related illness. Additionally, head coach Marisa Moseley inserted sophomore Halle Douglass into the starting lineup in place of junior Sara Stapleton who despite being dressed for the game, did not play.

Following Sunday’s loss, Moseley noted that her team was going to make changes to address their first quarter issues, and that they did. Wisconsin came out of the locker room playing a much more aggressive, high-tempo style of basketball than we’ve seen from them so far this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 16 Womens - Illinois State at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When asked about the changes, Moseley pointed to a few key changes: “We changed up our starting lineup and that enabled us to switch everything one through five. I think it gave us a little bit more juice in the beginning. Offensively, our pace was a little bit quicker and we were just trying to look to push the ball in transition and try to get some easy buckets.”

UW jumped out to an early lead thanks to 58.3% shooting from the field including 50% from beyond the arc. Brooke Schramek led the Badgers with six first quarter points.

Practically everything went UW’s way offensively in the second quarter. The Badgers put up 24 points, hitting four three pointers in the process. It was an incredibly balanced attack for Wisconsin in the first half; six of the seven players to touch the floor scored. Katie Nelson led the way with nine points.

After leading by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, UW took a 40-29 lead into the half. It’s safe to say it was the best half we’ve seen from the Badgers all season, who shot 59.3% from the field and 60% from three. Illinois State struggled from distance, shooting 1-of-9 in the first half. 10 of the 16 baskets scored by the Badgers were assisted.

Things slowed down in the second half, but UW did more than enough to keep themselves in the lead and finish this one off. The Badgers continued to shoot well from the field, shooting 53.8% in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was rather uneventful, featuring only 13 points from the Badgers.

Katie Nelson had the best game of her Badger career. The graduate transfer led Wisconsin with 17 points, including five three pointers, eclipsing double digits for the first time this season.

When asked what she did differently tonight, Nelson said, “Shooting with no hesitation. Coach said be fearless tonight and I think we really came out and executed and we were really aggressive. My teammates made great passes to me and I was just able to knock them in tonight.”

After the game, Marisa Moseley told her team that the Katie Nelson they saw tonight was the Katie Nelson that she brought to Madison with her from Boston University.

Having Sydney Hilliard on the floor is a great thing for this team. In her return to the court, Hilliard matched Nelson with 17 points on 8-11 shooting.

Both Nelson and Moseley agreed that Thursday night’s game was the most complete game the Badgers have played all year. “I think we’ve been working really hard to start and finish games, we still have some work to do but we’re really excited about this win.” Nelson said.

Next up for Wisconsin is a non-conference matchup with Eastern Illinois at the Kohl Center on December 23. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. CT.