THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HOFFMAN ESTATES —
Morgan Paige scored 18 points, including two free throws with 3 seconds remaining, and 11th-seeded Wisconsin beat Illinois 58-57 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.
Illinois, which trailed 54-44 with 6 minutes left, took a 57-54 lead on Amber Moore’s 3-pointer with 42 seconds left. Tessa Cichy made two free throws to get Wisconsin within a point.
“It just didn’t end how we wanted it. That’s all. I think it just comes to like learning from our mistakes from the past and just trying to make the adjustment. Just the scoreboard didn’t show what we wanted,” Ivory Crawford said.
“I think we just have to learn how to keep the edge,” Moore said. “We’re a better team when we’re on edge and we’re being the most aggressive team. And we’re the first one on the floor for loose balls, and we didn’t show that in the second half.
The Badgers (12-18), who will play Purdue in Friday’s quarterfinals, were 21 of 21 from the free-throw line, led by Paige who made all 10 of her foul shots. Jacki Gulczynski had 15 points and eight rebounds and Cassie Rochel had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Wisconsin out-rebounded Illinois 41-29.
Ivory Crawford led the sixth-seeded Illini (16-13) with 14 points. Moore scored 13 and Adrienne GodBold had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Leading scorer Karisma Penn was plagued by foul trouble and was held to eight points before fouling out.
Karisma only played 22 minutes. It was kind of devastating to our team and hurt us,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said. “She just never really got in the flow because of that foul trouble. So that definitely was something that hurt our team.
“I thought we adjusted in the first half and did a really good job in the first half playing without her. But the second half, we struggled to get in the flow offensively and be able to get the ball inside and get easy baskets, which she normally gets.”
Illinois led 30-20 at halftime. Crawford had nine points in the half to lead all scorers.
The loss may have ruined any NCAA Tournament chances the Illini had but Bollant is still optimistic.
“I think if you look at our quality wins, that’s what they talk about. Your quality wins is what gets you into the NCAA Tournament,” Bollant said. “We have six wins in the top 50.
“They’re not going to take another team in the NCAA Tournament at large bid that has six top 50 wins. And to have two top 25 wins with Georgia, Nebraska, I think if they say it’s quality wins, then we should have that to be.”