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UW women's basketball team can't maintain fourth-quarter lead in 72-71 loss to Nebraska
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UW WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

UW women's basketball team can't maintain fourth-quarter lead in 72-71 loss to Nebraska

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On the day the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball program celebrated one of its biggest achievements — the 2000 WNIT championship — the 2020 Badgers looked to be on the verge of a significant accomplishment of their own.

But as has happened several times this season, the Badgers faltered down the stretch and fell to Nebraska 72-71 Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Sixteen days after getting pushed around by the Cornhuskers in a 65-50 loss in Lincoln, the Badgers (10-10, 2-7 Big Ten) put up a much better fight and led by as many as 10 points, 57-47, at the end of the third quarter.

But Nebraska (15-5, 5-4) opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to get back in the game and then made the big plays in the final minute to prevail.

“Proud of how we battled. We’re right there,” coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “The challenge is being able to take this and know we didn’t get the ultimate outcome but how can we continue to take that betterment and move it forward.”

Sophomore Imani Lewis again led the Badgers with 21 points and senior Abby Laszewski had 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Senior Suzanne Gilreath provided 11 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the final deficit to one.

But after letting big second-half leads get away in losses to Rutgers and Iowa, the inability to finish games is getting irritating.

“It’s very frustrating because we know what we’re capable of doing,” Lewis said. “We’re not bringing it out to our full potential, so I think it’s frustrating because we know we’re better than that. We know what we’re capable of and we’re just not bringing that out of ourselves so we can get over this hump.”

Laszewski, who bounced back from perhaps her worst game of the season in the first meeting with Nebraska, emphasized the key was to remain focused on the progress.

“I think it’s definitely hard, but we just have to keep looking at the positives and know how close we are and that we are capable of pulling these games out,” she said. “It’s just important to keep hammering that in, that we can do it and we will.”

After being badly outrebounded at Nebraska, the Badgers controlled the boards in the first half, 25-18, including an 11-4 edge on the offensive boards. But they were unable to turn that advantage into points as they were outscored 4-2 on second-chance points.

“One of our game goals from the last time we played Nebraska on the road, we got outrebounded and we thought they were physically the tougher team,” Tsipis said. “Our kids did a great job in preparation and the first half we were plus (seven) on the glass.”

The Badgers maintained that rebound margin through the third quarter, but the Huskers turned it around in the fourth period, outrebounding UW 12-5.

Sophomore Leigha Brown led the Huskers with 20 points, while junior Kate Cain and sophomores Ashtyn Veerbeek and Sam Haiby had 11 points apiece. Senior Hannah Whitish, the former Barneveld athlete, was held to just five points before a large contingent of fans from her hometown in her final visit to the Kohl Center.

Even after letting the Huskers back into the game in the fourth quarter, the Badgers were able to take a 68-67 lead with 1:29 remaining on the first 3-pointer of the season by Lewis on her first attempt.

But the Huskers took advantage of an offensive rebound to regain the lead on a 3-pointer by Verbeek with just over a minute left.

After the teams exchanged turnovers, the Badgers were in position to tie or win the game with possession with 12 seconds remaining. A year ago, the Badgers beat the Huskers by one point on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kelly Karlis.

But this time Haiby came up with her fifth steal of the game and made two free throws — the Huskers outscored the Badgers 26-12 from the foul line — to stretch the lead to four and make Gilreath’s final shot moot.

NEBRASKA

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

Veerbeek 21 3-6 2-2 5 3 0 0 11

Cain 34 4-11 3-3 9 3 1 1 11

Whitish 26 1-7 2-2 3 1 0 2 5

Haiby 31 3-8 5-6 6 2 3 1 11

Eliely 29 1-3 4-5 2 2 1 1 6

Brown 31 5-17 9-10 4 0 1 0 20

Bourne 18 3-5 1-2 5 2 0 2 8

Mershon 1 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0

Brady 2 0-2 0-0 0 1 0 0 0

Mitchell 5 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 0

Totals 20-59 26-30 41 17 6 10 72

WISCONSIN

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

Laszewski 28 5-13 4-6 9 4 1 0 14

Lewis 35 8-18 4-6 6 2 2 2 21

Van Leeuwen 20 1-2 0-0 5 4 1 3 2

Beverley 35 3-8 2-2 4 2 6 2 9

Hilliard 24 2-5 0-0 5 3 2 1 4

Pospisilova 25 2-6 0-0 2 1 5 2 5

Stauffacher 8 0-3 0-0 0 0 0 0 0

Gilreath 15 3-5 2-2 2 1 0 0 11

Fredrickson 7 1-5 0-0 1 2 1 1 2

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

Luehring 2 1-3 0-0 0 0 0 0 3

Totals 26-68 12-16 41 19 18 11 71

Team totals include rebounds and turnovers

Nebraska 20 18 9 2572

Wisconsin 19 17 21 1471

3-pointers — N 6-18 (Veerbeek 3-5, Bourne 1-2, Whitish 1-3, Brown 1-3, Brady 0-1, Haiby 0-2, Eliely 0-2), W 7-19 (Gilreath 3-5, Lewis 1-1, Pospisilova 1-2, Luehring 1-2, Beverley 1-4, Van Leeuwen 0-1, Hilliard 0-1, Fredrickson 0-1, Stauffacher 0-2). Blocks — N 5 (Cain 3, Bourne 2), W 3 (Pospisilova 2, Laszewski 1). Steals — N 8 (Haiby 5, Cain 2, Eliely 1), W 2 (Lewis, Hilliard 1). Field goal percentage — N .339, W .382. Free throw percentage — N .867, W .750. Att. — 3,191.

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