It took longer than just about anyone associated with the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball program wanted to say the least, but at least it finally happened. We’re talking about the first win in the Jonathan Tsipis era of course.
On Sunday, Wisconsin downed the visiting Butler Bulldogs 60-55 to earn its first win of the season and first with Tsipis as the head coach.
“It’s not at all about me,” said Tsipis, via UWBadgers.com. “This is about the work that this team puts in and you want to see them have that success by finishing a game. They get a limited time to do this, and to see them have that part of being successful, you know what, as a coach I want to win every game. I want them to win every game, but the most important part is, this is their win. It just happens to be my first one here at Wisconsin.”
The Badgers got some major momentum as Avy Young hit a buzzer beater to end the third quarter. Her jumper made it a two-point game (39-37) in favor of the visiting Bulldogs.
Young paced the Badgers with 14 points on the day, leading a trio of Badgers in double figures. She was joined in double figures by fellow starter Cayla McMorris (10 points) and got some major help off the bench from Gabby Gregory (15 points, 5-11 FG).
Butler was led by Michelle Weaver’s 20 points, but she also had some help from two other double figure scorers. Kristen Spolyar added 17 points, while Tori Schikel poured in 15 in the losing effort.
Following Young’s jumper to end the third quarter, Wisconsin put the offense in to high gear in the final quarter of the game. A 23-16 advantage in the final quarter gave UW just enough to edge out Butler and get some positive momentum going for the program.
It wasn’t looking pretty for most of the game for the Cardinal and White though, as Butler led for 27 minutes of the contest. However, once the Badgers took a lead on a pair of made free throws from Marsha Howard with 9:24 to play in the fourth quarter they only gave up the lead one more time.
UW stretched its lead to a game-high eight points with one of Gregory’s with 4:33 to play. Butler just couldn’t find a way to get much closer, cutting the lead to just three points with a little over 90 seconds to go.
However, the Badgers finally got it all to go right and hit 8 of 10 free throws over the course of the final 1:03 to seal the five-point victory.
Free throws were a huge part of the game, as the Badgers hit 27 of 38 free throws for the game and held the Bulldogs to just 25 attempts from the free throw line for the game. The 71 percent day from the charity stripe was a season high for the Badgers.
Wisconsin also got a lot of mileage out of its bench, outscoring Butler 25-2 in bench points in large part thanks to Gregory’s 15-point day.
“It’s really important to me to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that coach is giving me and to help my teammates and be the burst of energy they might need or just do whatever I have to do to help the team be successful,” Gregory said. “That’s the only thing on my mind.”
The Badgers will have a quick turnaround, traveling to Milwaukee to take on the Panthers on Tuesday night. Tip is scheduled for 7p.m. from the Klotsche Center.