Senior guards lead Badgers women's basketball team past Wofford
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UW WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Senior guards lead Badgers women's basketball team past Wofford

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Score one for the old guard. Or, more precisely, guards.

While the arrival of freshmen guards Julie Pospisilova and Sydney Hilliard has transformed the look of the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s backcourt, a couple tenured veterans offered a reminder Sunday of what they can contribute.

Senior Suzanne Gilreath scored 21 points and senior Kendra Van Leeuwen dished out 11 assists as the Badgers pulled away in the second half for a 78-65 victory against Wofford at the Kohl Center.

Add in junior Niya Beverley, who returned after missing the opening game with an injury, and coach Jonathan Tsipis finds himself with the most versatile and potent backcourt in his four seasons at UW.

“We have guards that are quicker, guards that create their own shots, guards that we know will make sure and get us in the right action,” Tsipis said.

Gilreath, a 3-point shooting specialist throughout her career, hit five 3-pointers Sunday as the Badgers (2-0) were 10-for-20 from beyond the arc as a team. Often a liability on defense in the past, she’s continued to work on that part of her game and came up with a couple big steals against Wofford (0-2).

“Sue is too humble to say it, but she’s growing as a defender,” Tsipis said. “Sue hit some huge shots, got to some loose balls that were important and got to the free throw line.”

Gilreath, who has started both games this season, knows she has to step up defensively to become more than the spot player she has been most of her career.

“Being better defensively, being reliable on that side of the court,” Gilreath said of her priorities. “I know I can shoot the ball, but knowing that when I come down I can also lock up (defensively) and get some steals and not be as one-dimensional and help my team in other ways.”

Van Leeuwen, on the other hand, has made herself a fixture in the UW lineup for three years by helping in all those other ways. Primarily a point guard in the past, she now shares those duties with Hilliard and Beverley.

“Kendra’s mindset doesn’t change whether she’s on the ball or off the ball, making sure she can get her teammates in position to have success,” Tsipis said.

Van Leeuwen’s 11 assists were one shy of her career high against Arkansas last season. Those assists came on passes to six teammates, three of them to Gilreath.

“I can’t get assists without my teammates being able to hit the shots,” Van Leeuwen said. “That really showed today, especially getting out there and spreading the floor. I had multiple options to choose. I was fortunate to find teammates where the defense was unable to get to them.”

Never a prolific scorer, Van Leeuwen finished with five points, but her three-point play early in the third quarter triggered a 12-0 run that turned a 41-36 deficit into a 48-41 lead for the Badgers.

Her other field goal late in the third quarter started a 13-0 run that was capped by eight consecutive points by Hilliard to open the fourth quarter and extend the lead to 68-48.

Hilliard finished with 14 points and Imani Lewis contributed 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Senior Abby Laszewski scored all eight of her points in the second half and also blocked three shots.

“At halftime our team knew we had not played our best defensively,” Tsipis said. “We talked about playing more together and having better help side (defense). We didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. When Abby started to have an impact and Imani got on the glass a little bit more, you could see that energy go to the kids on the perimeter.”

Chloe Wanink, a redshirt senior from Cameron, Wisconsin, led the Terriers with 13 points. That total was less than half of her 28-point outing in Wofford’s season-opening 84-82 loss to Auburn.

WOFFORD

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

Wanink 36 5-12 0-0 4 1 1 0 13

Green 24 5-13 0-2 4 3 6 5 11

McDavid 25 4-11 0-0 10 4 1 3 8

Booker 30 2-9 2-2 7 1 2 6 6

Hatton 24 1-10 0-0 7 5 0 0 2

Lutz 14 3-7 0-0 5 1 2 0 7

Tomlin 16 3-7 0-0 4 3 0 0 6

Cook 11 2-2 0-0 1 2 0 0 5

Pulanco 16 1-4 2-3 1 0 1 0 4

Turner 4 1-1 0-0 1 1 0 1 3

Harris 0+ 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0

Totals 27-76 7-18 45 21 13 15 65

WISCONSIN

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

Gilreath 33 7-12 2-2 2 1 1 0 21

Lewis 27 4-12 4-9 10 1 1 5 12

Laszewski 27 3-5 2-4 7 1 0 2 8

Pospisilova 24 3-6 0-0 2 3 5 2 7

Van Leeuwen 30 2-5 1-1 8 2 11 3 5

Hilliard 18 5-8 2-3 5 0 0 0 14

Beverley 14 3-6 0-0 0 5 0 1 8

Stauffacher 16 1-3 1-1 4 1 1 1 3

Luehring 9 0-2 0-0 2 0 0 0 0

Bragg 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0

Stapleton 1 0-3 0-0 1 0 0 0 0

Totals 28-62 12-20 42 14 19 15 78

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

Wofford 23 16 9 17 — 65

Wisconsin 25 11 24 18 — 78

3-pointers — WO 7-18 (Wanink 3-5, Cook 1-1, Turner 1-1, Lutz 1-2, Green 1-5, Booker 0-1, Pulanco 0-1, McDavid 0-2), WI 10-20 (Gilreath 5-10, Hiilliard 2-2, Beverley 2-3, Pospisilova 1-3, Luehring 0-1, Stauffacher 0-1). Blocks — WO 2 (Hatton 2), WI 4 (Laszewski 3, Lewis 1). Steals — WO 4 (Hatton 2, Booker 1, Pulanco 1), WI 7 (Gilreath 2, Hilliard 1, Laszewski 1, Lewis 1, Stauffacher 1, Van Leeuwen 1 ). Field goal percentage — WO .355, WI .452. Free throw percentage — WO .571, WI. 600. Att. — 3,593.

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