The Wisconsin Badgers (1-11 Big Ten, 4-11 overall) stopped their losing skid and earned their first conference win of the season with a 69-57 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini (0-9 Big Ten, 2-10 overall). Wisconsin had lost their last nine games coming into Sunday afternoon’s contest, but some big time performances across the team led to their first victory.
. @ballislifee_34 is on lately— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) January 31, 2021
22 pts, 16 rebs today!
Only one point off career high and ties career in boards. pic.twitter.com/mgvsJiVcfP
Junior forward Imani Lewis had her fifth-straight double double as she finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, leading the team in both categories. Sophomore guard Sydney Hilliard added 16 points while graduate senior guard Estella Moschkau contributed with 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc to add 12 points.
UW was down 17-16 after the first quarter of play but a quick bucket in the second from Lewis kick started an 18-1 run as Wisconsin dominated the second quarter, leading to a 36-22 lead at the half time break.
The Illini were held to 29 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from deep.
In the fourth, Wisconsin at one point held a 22-point lead. Illinois gained some ground after forcing seven turnovers in the fourth quarter — turnovers are still a theme for the Badgers, as they had 20 this game — but UW held on for their first conference win of the season.
Head coach Jonathan Tsipis was thrilled for the team after a rough road since the Christmas break — when the Badgers last won on December 20.
“I’m so happy for our team. It’s obviously been a rough road since we’ve been back from Christmas. And you know, we’re working every day in practice. I think they’re learning. We’re very young and each game, we’re pulling things out. I think we’re doing things better,” Tsipis said.”
Forward Imani Lewis, one of the few upperclassmen on the Badgers, felt today was where some of the players finally saw their hard work pay off for the win.
Check out the highlights of this afternoon's big victory over the Illini! pic.twitter.com/8uOJgx8dbl— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerWBB) February 1, 2021
“We’re reaping the benefits now and like I told them, if you keep putting the work in, it’s going to show. But I think a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders because we are now seeing the benefits of them putting in the extra work and time,” Lewis said.
After their first win on the season, Wisconsin will face a super tough challenge on the road against the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins (8-1 Big Ten, 12-1 overall) on Thursday, February 4.