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Wisconsin women’s basketball: rough third quarter dooms UW in quest for back-to-back Big Ten wins

The Badgers had the lead at halftime, thanks to some lights out shooting, but struggled after the break and lost to the Spartans.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 05 Womens - Indiana at Wisconsin
Halle Douglass put on a shooting display Wednesday night.
Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

MADISON — Fresh off of their 22 point comeback victory over Purdue on Sunday, Wisconsin women’s hoops (7-18 overall, 4-11 Big Ten) hosted the Michigan State Spartans (14-11 overall, 8-6 Big Ten) on Wednesday night, attempting to win back-to-back Big Ten conference matchups for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

The first quarter has been UW’s Achilles’ heel all year, but the Badgers came out swinging in this one. Wisconsin took an early 6-2 lead thanks to three-pointers from Halle Douglass and Katie Nelson. Michigan State responded with a 6-0 run of their own to give them the lead, before Krystyna Ellew went on a 5-0 run of her own to steal the lead right back.

Play was sloppy on both end’s of the floor, as both teams turned the ball over seven times in the quarter. UW shot 66.7% in the quarter, assisted on five of six made baskets and led 15-12 after the first.

Both teams decided they did not want to play defense to start the second quarter, as there were 21 total points scored in the first three minutes (11 by MSU, 10 by UW). Over that span, Halle Douglass caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting two three-pointers, making her 3-of-3 from distance.

The Badgers and Spartans continued to trade blows and play each other very evenly throughout the quarter. Just before the halftime buzzer, Douglass added a fourth three-pointer to give her 12 points to lead the Badgers, tying her career high. UW shot 7-of-12 from distance in the first half, 61.9% from the field and took a 35-30 lead into halftime.

Wisconsin was unable to start the second half in the same manner that they did the first, scoring only three points, a three-pointer from Katie Nelson, over the first 4:18 of the third quarter. Over that span, it was a one-woman show for Michigan State. Guard Matilda Ekh scored eight points to give MSU a 40-38 lead.

After two Tara Stauffacher free throws gave the Badgers a 43-42 lead, UW went ice cold, unable to score on the offensive end and unable to stop Michigan State defensively. The Badgers did not score from the 4:16 mark until Douglass hit yet another three-pointer with 0:29 to play to end a 9-0 Spartan run. Ekh scored 13 points in the quarter, giving MSU a 53-46 lead heading into the final quarter. The Badgers were outscored 23-11 in the third.

Postgame, head coach Marisa Moseley talked about the third quarter struggles, “We got really stagnant and started to play a lot of one on one. I don’t know that we actually were running anything particular. They started switching and I think we didn’t take advantages of the mismatches. We got some looks but we didn’t make them... They turned up the heat a little bit and I think that we backed down.”

UW’s offensive struggles carried right over into the fourth. Similar to the third quarter, Wisconsin only scored three points, a three-pointer from Ellew, over the first 4:58 of the fourth. The Spartans were able to extend their lead to 12 with 5:47 to play and it was going to take another miracle comeback from the Badgers to come away with the victory.

Ellew’s strong night from beyond the arc continued as she hit a three-pointer to cut MSU’s lead down to eight with 1:36 to play, but it was too little too late. After a strong offensive first half, the Badgers shot 39.1% from the field in the second half, turned the ball over a total of 18 times and were unable to come away with the victory. Despite the Badgers making a season-high 14 three pointers, Michigan State took this one by a score of 74-67.

Notable stat lines:

  • Halle Douglass: Career-high 18 points (6-of-6 3P), four assists, three steals
  • Krystyna Ellew: 19 points (5-of-8 3P), three assists
  • Julie Pospisilova: 11 points, five assists
  • Matilda Ekh (Michigan State): 25 points (5-of-7 3P), three assists, two rebounds

Next up, the Badgers travel to Columbus on Sunday to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.