Hope springs eternal with a new year rising. The hope for the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team was that 2016 was all about setting things up for a successful 2017 half of the season.
That hope was smashed quickly, as Hallie Thome led the Michigan Wolverines (13-3, 2-0 Big Ten) to a 73-56 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers (5-9, 0-1 Big Ten) to open Big Ten conference play. Wisconsin had no answer for the 6-5 sophomore center, who poured in a career high 37 points in Michigan’s win.
“I think the key point to the game is obviously Hallie Thome,” Tsipis said, via UW athletics. “(She) is a kid who has a great touch. We were able to get her in foul trouble in the first half. I thought we had more of an aggressive mentality. We got to the line a little bit more in the first half and then I think you see the two sides of it.”
Wisconsin just simply couldn’t get things going offensively, countering with a game-high 12 points from sophomore Marsha Howard and 11 from junior forward Cayla McMorris.
Hope did spring for the Badgers in the first quarter though, as UW lead 15-14 after the first quarter of play at the Kohl Center. That lead didn’t last long, with the Wolverines owning the next three quarters of play.
A 19-11 advantage in the second quarter gave Michigan a 33-26 lead going in to the break. That didn’t change much after both teams emerged from the locker room, with Michigan leading just 54-44 after three periods.
Things unraveled for the Badgers in the final 10 minutes of the game, going four minutes without a point early on in the fourth quarter.
Wisconsin shot just 35 percent (21 of 60) from the field and where unable to take advantage of a decent defensive effort. Michigan was held to just 41.3 percent from the field and held just 6 of 21 shooting from beyond the arc.
But, a 43-31 advantage on the boards led Michigan to a 15-7 advantage in second chance points and UW couldn’t keep the Wolverines off the free throw line either.
Michigan made more free throws (15) than Wisconsin even attempted (8). Thus Wisconsin’s resulting bad loss on the scoreboard.
In a season that has been a struggle for new head coach Jonathan Tsipis, things may get much worse before they get better for this team. That’s especially true as the heat of Big Ten play continues to burn over the next few months.
Such is the nature of playing in easily the toughest league from top to bottom in the nation. A loss like this can’t affect future performances unless it is to recognize what went wrong and grow from it. Tsipis noted that after the game as well.
“One thing I told the team at the end is this league is too difficult if you stay too high after a win or too low after a loss to affect the next game,” said Tsipis. “We’ve got to turn, we’ve got to watch, we’ve got to teach and be better for Wednesday. That starts as soon as we’re able to get back together with the team tomorrow and start preparing for Rutgers.”
Wisconsin will take on Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey on Jan. 4 at 6p.m. CT. The game will be streamed via BTN Plus and can be heard on 100.9FM in the Madison area (stream available online).