The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Green Bay Phoenix 56-45, but it didn’t look pretty as Chucky Hepburn shot 2/14 and Tyler Wahl shot 2/11, while the visitors outscored the Badgers 30-24 in the second half.
To begin the game, both sides exchanged an array of misses, as there were seven consecutive combined misses after Cade Mayer began the scoring with a pullup jumper.
Jordan Davis broke the cold streak with a three-pointer, to which Mayer responded to a minute later with a jumper off a Steven Crowl turnover to give Green Bay a 4-3 lead at the 15:20 mark.
Max Klesmit connected on the second three of the night a minute later, and Carter Gilmore followed up a Chucky Hepburn miss on the ensuing possession to give Wisconsin the first two-score lead of the game at 8-4.
Clarence Cummings hit two free throws for the Phoenix on the ensuing drive to make it 8-6, but that would be the closest Green Bay would see the gap be for the remainder of the game.
Chucky Hepburn and Steven Crowl each hit a free throw, while Tyler Wahl made a layup to extend the lead to 12-6.
After a few buckets on each side, Wisconsin finally found offensive consistency, going on an 8-0 run to lead 26-11, which extended to 30-12 after two Wahl free throws at the 2:15 mark of the first half.
Wisconsin ended the first half with a steady 32-15 lead, playing up-and-down offense, but strong defense to put them in a good position for the second half.
Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn both significantly struggled in the first half, shooting 1/10 and 1/8, respectively.
Steven Crowl didn’t see much success else, shooting 1/4.
Carter Gilmore, Jordan Davis, and Max Klesmit were the pleasant surprises of the first half.
Gilmore made both of his shots, including a three-pointer, while securing three rebounds and earning a +- of 15.
Davis scored a team-high six points, shooting 2/4, while connecting on two deep shots, which hadn’t been his strength previously. Davis had two steals as well, making an impact on both sides of the court, while posting a +- of 12.
Klesmit, like Davis, made two three-pointers and scored six points, while posting a team-high +- of 17 in the first-half and recording a team-high 16 minutes after seeing foul trouble in Wisconsin’s first two games.
Wisconsin started the second half with a quick score as Tyler Wahl made a hook shot to extend the lead to 34-15.
However, after that, the Badgers fell cold offensively, while the Phoenix slowly began to chip away at the large deficit.
Brock Hefner responded with a layup of his own before Clarence Cummings hit a jumper on the ensuing drive to cut the lead to 34-19.
Then, following a Zae Blake pullup jumper, Cade Mayer went on a run of his own, hitting two free throws before scoring three straight layups to cut the lead to 35-29.
Tyler Wahl responded quickly by getting to the free throw line, hitting both shots, but Green Bay would not go away, as Zae Blake hit a layup and Brock Heffner hit a free throw, which cut the lead all the way down to 37-32.
During this stretch, Wisconsin shot 0/6 and turned the ball over six times. They turned the ball over six times in the entire first half.
Jordan Davis, who was Wisconsin’s highest-scoring, changed the tone, hitting a much-needed three-pointer to give the Badgers a 40-32 lead.
Similar to the Stanford game, Wisconsin was able to have answers when Green Bay scored offensively to keep the Phoenix at bay for the remainder of the second half.
Then, a few possessions later, the Badgers had good ball movement as a strong drive led to a kickout to Carter Gilmore, who swung to Jordan Davis, who missed an open three.
Fortunately, Isaac Lindsey was there for the rebound and the putback layup to give Wisconsin a 42-33 lead.
Green Bay did inch close once more, as Zae Blake hit two free throws before hitting three pointer on the ensuing drive to cut the lead to 44-38.
However, that was the closest the lead got to before the game finished.
Jordan Davis followed with two free throws and Chucky Hepburn shook off his shooting struggles with a jumper on the following drive to give Wisconsin a 48-40 lead.
But, the biggest crowd-changer was Steven Crowl’s wide-open three-pointer to give Wisconsin a 51-41 lead that put the game away for good.
A minute later, Crowl hit an and-1 layup, making the free throw to extend that lead to 54-41 before Wisconsin eventually won 56-45, overcoming Green Bay’s second-half run.
Wisconsin shot similarly from the field in the second half, but much worse from three, leading to supbar shooting numbers of 31.6% from the field and 25% from beyond the arc in the second half.
Overall, Wisconsin hit 30.1% of its shots, including 42.1 of its threes, en route to 56 points.
The Badgers have now declined in scoring in each of their three games this season, dropping from 85 against South Dakota, to 60 against Stanford, to 56 against Green Bay.
Chucky Hepburn finished with eight points on 2/14 shooting, while Tyler Wahl also finished with eight points on 2/11 shooting, as well as four fouls and turnovers.
Jordan Davis was the primary figure for the Badgers offensively, scoring 11 points on 3/7 shooting, including 3/6 from deep, while recording two steals, both of which occurred in the first half.
Steven Crowl and Max Klesmit each had nine points for the Badgers, with the former shooting 3/6 and the latter hitting 2/4 from deep. Klesmit played a team-high 36 points.
After leading the reserves in minutes against Stanford, Connor Essegian had a quiet night, scoring 2 points, while shooting 0/1 and posting a +- of -1, despite the 11-point win.
Instead, Carter Gilmore, who led the reserves in minutes against South Dakota, took that role again, playing 20 solid minutes with a +- of 12, tied for the second-highest on the team.
It wasn’t a great victory for the Badgers, but it was a win. Now, they’ll travel to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, where they’ll face the toughest test thus far: Dayton.