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For a brief, fleeting moment Saturday it seemed as if the implausible just might be possible for the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team.

After teetering on the brink of a blowout early against No. 18 Ohio State, the Badgers battled back to take a one-point lead early in the third quarter when Courtney Fredrickson’s pass inside to Marsha Howard was deflected into the basket by the Buckeyes’ Stephanie Mavunga.

But it was not to be, as the Buckeyes quickly regained control and overcame a scary injury to junior Makayla Waterman to defeat the Badgers 68-55 before a season-high crowd of 6,623 at the Kohl Center.

Having seen his team battle back from a 22-6 deficit, UW coach Jonathan Tsipis couldn’t help but think it could be the Badgers’ day when they took a 36-35 lead on the accidental basket that capped a 17-2 UW run.

“We practice it all the time and went through it in the shoot-around this morning,” joked Tsipis, who lobbied for Fredrickson to get credited with a 3-pointer. “You hope when you get a roll like that, you can capitalize on it and stay in that attacking mode. When you stay in that positive mindset I think good things can happen.”

The Badgers’ lead proved to be short-lived as Kelsey Mitchell’s layup put Ohio State back in the lead for good. Mitchell, the fourth-leading scorer in NCAA history, was held to 16 points but did set an NCAA record by hitting a 3-pointer in her 81st consecutive game.

The outcome of the game, however, was pushed to the background moments later when Waterman fell awkwardly while going for a rebound and had to be carried off on a stretcher after lying motionless on the floor for several minutes.

She was transported to UW Hospital. Ohio State athletic trainer Chalisa Fonza released a statement saying that Waterman “has full function in all of her extremities and is doing well.”

When the game was resumed after a delay of about 15 minutes, senior guard Asia Doss wiped away some tears and hit a 3-pointer to spark a 12-3 Ohio State run to open up a 53-41 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Buckeyes coach Kevin McGuff was pleased with how his players handled an emotional situation.

“It’s hard,” he said. “She’s especially beloved by her teammates so that was difficult for them. But I was proud of how they responded. The No. 1 thing as coaches we told them, she was playing really hard so we’re not going to sit here and not play hard for her. The kids did a great job responding.”

McGuff was less excited about how his team had played leading up to that time as the Badgers wrested away momentum.

“We quit playing hard, quit playing with focus and Wisconsin made its play,” he said. “They played hard throughout like they always do. That was a bad stretch for us. It was a really choppy, inconsistent game for us.

“When we’re not consistent with our focus and our effort we’re incredibly vulnerable to lose games like this.”

Tsipis likewise offered a mixed review of his team’s performance, expressing disappointment with a timid effort at the start but saying he was encouraged by the aggressiveness demonstrated during the comeback.

Senior Cayla McMorris led that charge, becoming the 25th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark in the process. She finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Howard also had a productive day with 20 points and eight rebounds as the Badgers finished with a 43-37 edge on the boards.

“I thought in the first quarter we played in fear; in fear of the aggressiveness of Ohio State and what they could do,” Tsipis said. “I thought that Cayla made it her mission that we were not going to back down anymore.

“I’m proud that later we didn’t play in fear. Different people stepped up to rebound the basketball. I thought defensively we were able to keep them at bay and keep them out of an offensive rhythm and that’s a tribute to our kids.”


min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Mavunga 33 9-16 3-5 10 3 1 2 21

Mitchell 40- 5-11 4-5 2 1 2 1 16

Calhoun 25 0-4 0-0 0 2 2 2 0

Harper 33 6-15 3-4 11 2 3 1 15

Doss 37 3-10 2-3 3 1 4 1 9

Hart 20 2-3 0-0 4 4 1 2 5

Waterman 12 1-5 0-0 4 2 1 0 2

Totals 26-64 12-17 37 15 14 9 68


min fg-a ft-a rb pf a to pts

Howard 32 10-19 0-0 8 3 3 1 20

Fredrickson 34 4-8 0-0 6 5 1 1 9

Van Leeuwen 31 1-5 1-2 6 2 1 3 4

Beverley 35 0-6 0-0 3 2 3 3 0

McMorris 39 4-12 7-10 13 1 7 5 15

Gilreath 13 1-6 0-0 1 1 0 1 3

Marble 6 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 0 0

Laszewski 8 2-2 0-0 1 0 1 2 4

Shaw 2 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 0

Totals 22-59 8-12 43 16 16 17 55

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

Ohio State 22 13 9 24 — 68 Wisconsin 9 19 10 17 — 55

3-pointers — OS 4-18 (Mitchell 2-6, Hart 1-1, Doss 1-5, Calhoun 0-3, Harper 0-3), W 3-11 (Fredrickson 1-1, Van Leeuwen 1-2, Gilreath 1-6, Beverley 0-1, McMorris 0-1). Blocks — OS 4 (Mavunga 2, Calhoun 1, Hart 1), W 3 (Howard 2, McMorris 1). Steals — OS 14 (Mavunga 4, Mitchell 3, Harper 3, Waterman 3, Hart 1), W 4 (Van Leeuwen, Beverley, McMorris, Marble 1. Field goal percentage — OS .406, W .373. Free throw percentage — OS .706, W .667. Att. — 6,623.


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