first_imgSenior guard Teah Gant has kept the Badgers successful by cutting down on mistakes, having strong second halves.[/media-credit]Often appearing as though they enjoy making things difficult on themselves, the Wisconsin women’s basketball team (15-5, 5-4) has seen its season transpire with an incredible amount of highs and lows.Heading into last Thursday’s loss against Penn State, Wisconsin was riding a four-game win streak consisting entirely of strong conference wins. Falling to the second-place Nittany Lions gave the Badgers their first taste of defeat since Jan. 3, and left them discouraged after the game.“I think we learned that we still have to work hard every game, come out with that mentality that we have to do all the little things just in order to get the win,” senior guard Teah Gant said. “Even though we’ve been very successful this season, we still have to make sure that we take care of the little things that we did in the beginning of the season because that’s what’s got us to where we are.”Looking further back into the schedule, UW enjoyed another quartet of consecutive wins in December as non-conference play was wrapping up. Entering Big Ten play seemingly on a roll, Wisconsin managed to begin the conference season with a 1-3 record, including two consecutive losses to Iowa and Illinois.Even earlier in the year, the Badgers began their season with three consecutive wins before falling to intrastate rival UW-Green Bay Nov. 24.Luckily for Wisconsin, even losses have been indicative of the team’s potential. Against Penn State, the Badgers managed to hold the Nittany Lions, the third best scoring offense in the conference, to 54 points — almost 15 points below their season average.Despite their inconsistencies, the Badgers have stayed afloat in a season that has seen all Big Ten teams reach 10 wins for the first time in conference history by taking care of the ball — always high on head coach Lisa Stone’s priorities — and finishing off games with strong second halves.“We encourage our players to continue to play solid defense and rebound the basketball, take care of the ball and take good shots,” Stone said. “Against Penn State, we were a little flat and we couldn’t get it going offensively. That’s something that we can fix, and I’m looking forward to getting back to practice to get ready for Indiana.”Wisconsin has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in 12 of its 20 games, and is 10-2 in such contests. In addition, the Badgers outscored teams 139-92 in the second half of the four victories before the Penn State game. Against Michigan State Jan. 14, Wisconsin trailed by 14 points with more than 14 minutes left in the game before a 23-6 run gave UW a 48-45 victory. Even more impressive was the 42-point second half the Badgers put together to come back from a 15-point deficit Nov. 22 against Cleveland State, a game in which UW was heavily favored.For Stone, the key to strong second halves has been a one-moment, one-game-at-a-time approach.“We have to stay focused on 1-0,” she said. “It has to be the mentality because you start looking too far ahead, or you need to look behind you and see who’s chasing you, that’s when you slip. We got to keep our eye on the prize and stay focused on each game.”Moving forward, Wisconsin will have to improve its offensive production as Big Ten play winds down. While their current label as the conference’s worst scoring offense, statistically speaking, is misleading because the Badgers are third in field goal percentage and fourth in scoring margin, Stone’s squad has had trouble getting shots off.“No, I don’t think we’re really worried about it,” Stone said of her team’s offensive production. “People have bad games, shooting games, and I think we’ve been doing well so far. We just need to get inside and finish, and if our outside shot isn’t falling, we have to make sure we get it into the post and look for other options.”Against Penn State in particular, Wisconsin had offensive trouble in the second half. Outscored by eight in that final half, UW guards had some difficulty with the Nittany Lions’ 1-2-2 trap defense, as several possessions resulted in either a poor shot or no shot at all.“I think maybe it slowed us down a little bit,” junior guard and leading scorer Alyssa Karel said. “I don’t think we turned it over at all against it, I think it kind of just slowed us in the flow of the game, not being able to get across [half-court] and then we only have half the shot clock left to make a play. It was a good half-court defense, I think we just had to attack it more.”last_img read more