The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Liberty Flames in an intense 75-71 battle that remained close for the entire 40 minutes, moving forward to the quarterfinals of the NIT, where they'll face the winner of UCF and Oregon.
After Steven Crowl had the hot hand against Bradley, Chucky Hepburn was the star on Sunday, scoring a career-high 27 points, including 19 in the first half, but, all-around, the Badgers were clutch at the end against Liberty, with several different players seeing the ball and putting it in the hole.
The Badgers came out strong offensively in the first half once again, scoring 37 points on 64% efficiency, although they didn't connect on a single three-pointer.
However, the Flames were hand in hand, scoring 34 first-half points, aided by four three-pointers in a half where 56% of their shots came behind the arc.
It was a top-heavy half, as Dharius McGee scored 15 points in the first half, while Hepburn and Steven Crowl had 19 and 14, respectively.
Hepburn cooled off in the second half, scoring eight points on 2/9 shooting, but Tyler Wahl had the hot hand, especially in the late portion, scoring 14 points on 4/5 efficiency, which played a significant role in the Badgers’ paint presence as Steven Crowl sat due to foul trouble.
Despite the strong shooting by the Badgers, the Flames were right there, even having a game-high seven-point lead with ten minutes remaining, aided by 16 more points from McGhee and an 8-0 personal run by Kyle Rhode.
But, it all came down to the wire, as the two sides traded back-and-forth baskets, with the Badgers prevailing off a Max Klesmit layup before free throws sealed the deal.
With the win, the Badgers have now won two consecutive games for the first time since January 3rd.
Now, the Badgers will either play on Tuesday or Wednesday and await the UCF-Oregon matchup to see if they’ll have another matchup at the Kohl Center or if they return on the road.