Wisconsin senior Morgan Paige drove to the left of the basket, danced right to avoid junior Cristina Bigica and went up for the layup. The ball spun around the rim and fell through with .8 seconds left in the game. Her basket gave the Badgers the 62-60 victory.
“I just know in any given situation we had double bonus,” Paige said. “Just run the clock out, get any possible opportunity to score with the last possession … that ball was on the rim for the longest time and it fell for us.”
Marquette did their best to comeback and try for the win. Down by 10 points with six minutes left, junior Arlesia Morse drilled two three-pointers in as many possessions to cut Wisconsin’s lead to four points. After a small 5-0 run by Wisconsin to bring the lead back up to seven, Marquette started chipping away at the lead. Senior Katherine Plouffe made eight straight points to get Marquette within one and a free throw from junior Apiew Ojulu tied it at 60. Plouffe said getting back to the basics allowed the team to chip away at the Badger lead and eventually tie it.
“Where we had our run and where we were catching up was when we got back to how we play as a team,” Plouffe said. “My teammates were looking for me and did a good job screening so I could get open.”
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell was proud of her team’s comeback and ability to get the ball to Plouffe.
“If you look at the end of the game, I thought we did everything we could to put ourselves in position to win,” Mitchell said. “That’s all you can ask your team to do.”
Plouffe notched another double-double, netting 16 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow senior Katie Young contributed 11 points, but foul trouble kept her off the court for the middle of the second half.
For the Badgers, Paige went over her average of 9.3 points before the ten-minute mark in the first half en route to a 16-point night herself. Redshirt junior Michela Johnson contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double of her own, and senior and leading scorer Taylor Warts scored 12.
Marquette ended the first half down by six, but a 7-0 run to open the second half put the Golden Eagles up by one. It was the last time Marquette led all game. Plouffe said starting hot after halftime comes from locker room adjustments.
“When we go into the locker room we know what needs to get fixed,” Plouffe said. “That’s just a regrouping for us where we can talk to each other and get our heads on straight.”
Mitchell said that there are still positives to take away from the game, mainly how the team pushed and tied it late in the game.
“I’m glad to see the fight in my players, even in a game that we didn’t play well and were missing a lot of shots that we were putting in,” Mitchell said. “I have a group of fighters and we have to learn to do that earlier and not dig a hole against a team that’s capable of beating you.”
The Golden Eagles will battle Wisconsin-Milwaukee next Sunday at Milwaukee. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.