Badgers squander first half lead in loss to Vanderbilt

first_imgAfter starting the game on fire and looking destined for a 2-0 start to the season, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team (1-1) fizzled out in the second half against Vanderbilt (3-0) this Thursday at the Kohl’s Center in a 58-67 loss.The opening tip fell to the hands of the Commodores, who got on the board first shortly afterwards with a layup and a 2-0 lead. It would be their last lead until later into the second half.In what turned out to be a dominating opening segment for Wisconsin, the Badgers offense went on a tear, starting 6-for-6 from the field including a pair of makes behind the arc. With 11:45 left in the first half, the Commodores found themselves in a 17-2 hole. Wisconsin’s redshirt senior forward Michala Johnson set the tone early on, scoring six of the team’s first 11 points.On the contrary, Vanderbilt didn’t help matters with a sloppy start on both sides of the ball. In the opening six minutes of the game, the Commodores shot just 1-7 from the field as a team, including 0-4 from three-point range. Defensively, the Commodores committed five fouls to the Wisconsin’s one in the same stretch.Following the dominant start by the Badgers, the offense cooled off a bit, falling into a 2-for-7 shooting slump which opened the door for Vanderbilt to get back into the game. In the midst of a seven-minute scoring drought, a layup from Vanderbilt’s Paris Kea got the Commodores rolling again in what would eventually lead to a massive comeback.While Wisconsin continued to be effective on offense, the Commodores came alive in the final eight minutes in the half, racking up 24 points over the span to close the half. A layup by Vanderbilt’s Rebekah Dahlman with 3:43 in the opening half put the Commodores within a single-digit deficit, 26-34, after being down by 10 or more for the majority of the first 20 minutes.A strong performance off the bench (22 combined points), helped keep Vanderbilt alive going into the locker room at half along with Dahlman’s 12 points, cutting the Badgers lead down to just 41-34.Wisconsin senior forward Jacki Gulcynski noted a last second layup by Dahlman at the end of the first half as the momentum shifter in Vanderbilt’s favor for the rest of the game.“I could feel the energy kind of dropping,” Gulczynksi said. “I was trying to stay encouraging and telling everybody to keep the energy up because that’s what really got us going the first four minutes of the game. The first and last four minutes are what can really define a half.”The second half showcased both teams matching shots for the first four-and-a-half minutes of play, deadlocked at seven points each and a 48-41 score. Following a jumper made by Gulcynski with 15:31 left to play, the Badgers would suffer a seven-minute scoring drought that would claim not only their lead, but put them down eight with just nine minutes to go.The roaring comeback from the Commodores was piloted by freshman forward Khaléann Caron-Goudreau, who sank back-to-back layups to tie the game and give Vanderbilt a lead with 11:15 left, one they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.After shooting 55 percent (17-31) from the field in the first half, the Badgers stumbled through the second to the tune of 27 percent (6-21). Noting the team’s offensive decline, Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey noted the success of Vanderbilt’s defensive adjustments by head coach Melanie Balcomb as they switched to a zone.“There were times when we made a couple passes and hit the open person and it was fine, and then we come down to try and make the home-run play and we turn it over,” Kelsey said, “It’s just recognition, you have to recognize what’s open and not force things that aren’t there.”The Commodores pulled away comfortably in the final ten minutes of the game in a final segment that was plagued by Badger turnovers. In the second half alone, the Commodores scored 13 points off of Wisconsin miscues.Leading the Badgers in scoring was Johnson, who finished with 17 points but just five in the second half. Junior guard Dakota Whyte led the rebounding efforts for Wisconsin, finishing with six rebounds. As a whole, the team allowed over 30 points in both halves defensively while only scoring 17 points in the second half.The Badgers will try to get back on the winning track this Sunday as they hit the road to take on winless Drake (0-3) with a 2 p.m. tipoff.last_img

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