Wisconsin beats Hokies for 7th consecutive win

first_imgRUSS COOK/Herald photoThrough a strong defensive effort Thursday, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team defeated Virginia Tech 61-50 at the Kohl Center, earning the Big Ten’s second victory in the second annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge.“This is a big win for our team. In my opinion, [it is] another statement game for our program,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said. “We’ve played some tough teams out of some tough conferences, and to be one of the only two to survive the Big Ten/ACC Challenge — on the women’s side — I’m very proud of our players.”The Badgers held the Hokies to just 52 points — 14 points below their season average — on 37 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent beyond the arc. Despite their best efforts, however, the Badgers couldn’t keep junior guard Lindsay Biggs from putting up a career high 22 points with 8-for-19 shooting from the field.“Defensively, I thought we were outstanding tonight,” Stone said. “Teah Gant and Ashley Thomas rotated on [Biggs], and she got her numbers, but she had to work for everything she got.”Offensively, sophomore guard Alyssa Karel led the way for the Badgers with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.Despite needing two overtimes to defeat UW-Milwaukee in its last game, Wisconsin came out strong, riding an 11-1 run to a 36-27 lead at the half.The Badgers extended their lead to as many as 18 points with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, and 17 points in the second half, but Virginia Tech kept fighting. The Hokies used added pressure on defense through a half court trap to battle back, but the closest they could get was within six points of the Badgers at 40-34 in the second half.“We kept digging ourselves in a hole,” Hokies’ head coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “When we turned up the notch on defense we were able to get back in the game. … I give some credit to Wisconsin — they played extremely hard.”Biggs helped the Hokies close the gap late in the first half of play, scoring the last 12 points of the half for Virginia Tech. But, as the second half started, Gant took over guarding Biggs and shut her down for an extended period of time.“[I tried to] just basically lock her up and stay in her shorts [and] make her put the ball on the floor because I know my teammates are there for the help,” Gant said.Junior guard Rae Lin D’Alie also added nine points for Wisconsin, and three others — juniors Mariah Dunham, Gant and Tara Steinbauer — pitched in with eight points apiece.“Once again, [we had] tremendous balanced scoring,” Stone said. “[We] sputtered a little bit against the half-court trap, but the bottom line is, I’m proud of the players for the way we handled it. They withstood it [and] got to the free-throw line in the second half.”Wisconsin improved to 7-1 with the victory and extended its winning streak to seven games — the most for the program since winning a school-record 15 straight during the 2001-02 season from Nov. 25 to Jan. 17.One of the keys to Wisconsin’s success has been its versatility, which showed again Thursday as the Badgers featured a big lineup, with Dunham playing as guard and Thomas and Lin Zastrow playing on the post offensively.Stone also was pleased with the overall play of her team, putting together a solid 40 minutes on both sides of the ball, including what she referred to as a “free-flowing offense” for the Badgers.“As a collective unit for 40 minutes, we put both sides of the ball together for the most part,” Stone said. “I’d like us to make all of our free throws, but the last couple games it’s kept us in it and won some games for us. Tonight we got there 29 times, which I like, but we’ve got to capitalize on those as well.”Following the win, Wisconsin will take a day off Friday before hitting the court again Saturday to prepare for its next game. The Badgers have an afternoon matchup Sunday against the Huskies of Northern Illinois at the Kohl Center.last_img

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