The Wisconsin women’s basketball team used a furious second-half rally to climb back into the game Thursday night, but fell short to South Dakota State 68-65. The first half proved the downfall for the Badgers as they dropped their fourth game in a row.”We just had a horrendous time handling the basketball in the first half,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “I’m disappointed in the first half. We got down and lacked intensity. It was a courageous battle for us to come back, obviously, but it was too little, too late.”South Dakota State had just two field goals in the last 14 minutes of the game, including an eight-minute scoring drought when the Badgers cut it to two. The Badgers trailed by 16 at the half and as many as 21 early in the second half, but went on a 19-0 run that brought the 4,670 in attendance to their feet.The team was sparked by freshman Christine Spencer, who came off the bench to help with defense and even knocked down a 3-pointer for her first points of the year.”I thought we got a nice little lift from Spencer. That’s probably the silver lining of the second half,” Stone said.”When [Christine Spencer] came in, she was determined. Her defense and just our intensity was completely different from the first half,” sophomore forward Danielle Ward said. The teams then traded baskets until the final minute, when Janese Banks, who had a team-high 15 points, hit a runner in the lane to cut it to one with just under a minute to go. On the ensuing defensive possession, Banks took a charge to give the ball back to the Badgers with a chance to take their first lead since early in the first half. Jolene Anderson drove and kicked it to Ashley Josephson, who had a good look, but missed a 3-point attempt. The Badgers fouled, freshman Jennifer Warkenthien missed the first end of a 1-and-1 and the Badgers had a second attempt to take the lead, but Danielle Ward’s jumper rimmed out. This time, Warkenthien dropped both free throws to take a three-point advantage. The comeback attempt came to an end when Banks’ desperation 3 at the buzzer missed everything. Banks earned her first career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough on this day.”[South Dakota State] wasn’t afraid of us at all, and they shouldn’t be,” Stone said. “(Head coach) Aaron (Johnson) does a great job. They are a good team that knows how to win.”Sophomore guard Andrea Verdegan, who finished the game with 19 points, led South Dakota State. The Wisconsin native had hit just three shots from beyond the arc all year, but knocked down five in the game.”I did grow up a Badger fan and it feels nice. This is a big game and I was really excited. We knew that they were going to be really tough, especially on their home court,” Verdegan said.The South Dakota State defense caused the Badgers fits all day as evidenced by the total number of turnovers (26) to field goals made (25) by the Badgers.”We feel like if we just allowed Wisconsin to go through their half-court offense and execute and have to try and stop those guards, it would be really hard to do that,” Johnson said. “Defensively, one of the things we try to do is be really distracting. We’re not always going to be the quickest and most athletic team out there, but we have a style and a system that really requires us to try and disrupt other offenses.”Wisconsin must now search for answers, and it gets no easier as they head to Lawrence, Kan., for a date with the Jayhawks. The University of Kansas is currently undefeated at 6-0 and is outscoring its opponents by 20.8 points per game. Senior Crystal Kemp leads the team in scoring (15.7) and rebounds (6.5). The last meeting between the two was 10 years ago in the NCAA tournament, where Wisconsin upset the Jayhawks in the first round 73-72. “We have to start over now. Our record is now 0-0. A brand new season starts tomorrow and there’s going to be some changes,” Stone said.
U-20 WORLD CUP FALLOUT.Olawale Ajimotokan in AbujaPlayers of the national Under-20 female team, the Falconets were the victim of the cash squeeze plaguing Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as they were left stranded yesterday in their Serob Hotel in Abuja following the failure of the federation to cough out transport fares and allowances owed them. The Falconets returned to Nigeria on Wednesday from Papua New Guinea after their early exit from the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.THISDAY learnt last night that federation officials led by General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, haggled for more time with players to raise the transport fares of N20, 000 per player but the Falconets insisted they would not vacate their hotel rooms unless they were paid all their bonuses and allowances.Sanusi pleaded with the players to see reasons with the federation which was cash strapped and could not pay the transport fares and allowances.THISDAY further learnt that the harsh financial times made things difficult for the team as they survived on a zero-budget in Papua New Guinea in the Pacific region.“NFF secretary pleaded for more time to raise money for the transport fares to enable us return to our clubs. They told us that we will not be evicted from the hotels as they earlier threatened but pleaded for our understanding as there was no money to offset our bonuses and allowances for now,” one of the players who did not want her name in print confided in THISDAY yesterday.Further checks revealed that NFF travelled to the island country without money while accounting officials meant to accompany the team on the trip were dropped at the last minute because of lack of cash.The players complained of poor kitting as they were only provided with two top jerseys, one short and no underwear tights for the competition.No top official of the federation was willing to speak on the matter when THISDAY sought their opinion.“What do you want me to say? Are you a stranger to the poor funding problem we have been battling for some time now? It is only the intervention of the federal government that can bail us out of the present cash squeeze. I pray it happens before our next game against Cameroon in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers otherwise, it will not be a funny story,” laments the top federation official who spoke to us on condition of anonymity last night.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram