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INDIANAPOLIS — Imani Lewis was not lacking for motivation as the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team opened the Big Ten Conference tournament on Wednesday.

For starters, she was a little put out that the conference coaches had snubbed her by leaving her off the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team announced Monday. But she wasn’t about to pout over it.

“I’m bigger than that,” she said after receiving the news. “I can’t be sad about it. I just have to use it for motivation.”

Of even greater motivation, however, was her desire to keep playing alongside senior teammates Marsha Howard and Kelly Karlis.

And she helped make sure they’d play at least another day as Lewis scored a game-high 17 points to help lead the No. 13 seed Badgers to a 65-57 victory over No. 12 seed Penn State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The victory sends the Badgers (14-17) to a second-round matchup against No. 5 seed Ohio State (14-13) at approximately 1:20 p.m. today.

“My mindset was pretty much it’s win or go home,” said Lewis, who also grabbed nine rebounds. “I don’t want to go home.

“The seniors talked to me and I said I don’t want this to be your last game. I said this could possibly be your last college game and I don’t want that to happen. So I told them I’m going to come out and give everything I have because you don’t know what could happen.”

Lewis made good on that vow as she scored the team’s first five points and had 11 in the first half as the Badgers built a 33-22 lead.

“It was fun to see the energy our kids came out with,” coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Great fire. Imani Lewis I thought played with a big chip on her shoulder.

“I thought in the first half we were really active defensively. We knew in the second half that Penn State has some really good scorers and they would come back after us.”

Lewis went to the bench early in the third quarter after picking up her second and third fouls, but the Badgers managed to keep a 12-point margin until the final minute of the period.

That’s when the Lady Lions finally made their run, scoring nine straight points to pull within 43-40 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.

But Howard, who had been held to six points over the first three quarters, scored nine in the fourth as the Badgers regained command. Howard finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. She now has 1,086 career points, moving up to No. 22 on the all-time scoring list, ahead of former teammate Cayla McMorris.

Led by Lewis and Howard, the Badgers outscored the Lady Lions 38-16 in the paint and had a 45-37 rebounding advantage.

“Our strength has been our inside kids the whole year and the plays that Imani and Marsha made down the stretch were huge,” Tsipis said. “A senior that gets 15 points and 14 rebounds knowing it could possibly be her last game, kudos to Marsha Howard.”

The Badgers received significant contributions from all of their starters as junior Kendra Van Leeuwen scored 10 points, just her second double-figures game of the season, sophomore Niya Beverley added nine points and Karlis contributed eight points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

“I thought a couple of Kendra’s drives came at huge, huge times when we really needed a basket,” Tsipis said. “I thought Niya got it started early and had to handle a lot of pressure out there.

“For somebody like Kelly Karlis, it’s her only Big Ten tournament and she gets to play a second day. I think our kids rally around that type of idea.”

Sophomore Kamaria McDaniel scored 16 points to lead Penn State (12-18), while senior Teniya Page added 14 in her final game, 12 of them coming in the second half.

UW and Ohio State met twice during the regular season with the Buckeyes winning 70-68 at home and 61-50 at the Kohl Center.

WISCONSIN

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

Karlis 38 2-9 3-4 9 2 8 3 8

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Howard 39 7-16 1-3 14 3 4 1 15

Lewis 26 7-12 3-5 9 3 2 1 17

Van Lee. 34 4-4 2-2 3 3 0 3 10

Beverley 39 3-12 3-5 1 1 2 1 9

Gilreath 9 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 0 3

Laszewski 15 1-6 1-2 2 1 0 2 3

Hale 0+ 0-0 0-2 1 1 0 0 0

Totals 25-61 13-23 45 14 17 12 65

PENN STATE

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

Ebo 28 3-5 3-4 5 4 1 3 9

Carter 32 2-5 0-0 1 1 4 0 4

Ortiz 21 1-4 0-0 5 3 2 1 3

Frazier 27 4-8 0-0 8 5 1 2 9

T.-Green 31 0-7 0-0 2 1 2 1 0

McDaniel 28 5-17 3-3 5 1 2 0 16

Page 26 5-13 2-5 4 3 4 4 14

Wallace 7 1-1 0-0 1 4 0 1 2

Totals 21-60 8-12 37 22 16 12 57

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

Wisconsin 18 15 10 22 — 65

Penn State 11 11 16 19 — 56

3-pointers — W 2-8 (Gilreath 1-1, Karlis 1-3, Howard 0-1, Beverley 0-3), PS 7-24 (McDaniel 3-9, Page 2-5, Frazier 1-1, Ortiz 1-2, Carter 0-2, Travascio-Green 0-5). Blocks — W 5 (Karlis 2, Lewis 1, Beverley 1, Laszewski 1), PS 4 (Ebo 2, Carter 1, McDaniel 1). Steals — W 7 (Howard 3, Lewis 2, Beverley 2), PS 5 (Page 2, Ebo 1, Frazier 1, Travascio-Green 1). Field goal percentage — W .410, PS .350 Free throw percentage — W .565, PS .667. Att. — N/A.

Bucky!

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