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UW-Green Bay throttles Wisconsin

Dennis Punzel

The Wisconsin State Journal

Rivalry games often have a way of bringing out the best in a team.

Such was the case last year when the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team shocked UW-Green Bay, outscrapping the Phoenix in a one-point victory on the road that would be the highlight of the season.

But Wednesday night the roles were reversed, as UWGB gained revenge with a 67-34 rout of the Badgers that entertained only the green-clad cheering section behind the Phoenix’s bench at the Kohl Center.

Former Portage athlete Caitlyn Hibner led Green Bay with a career-high 19 points. The sophomore guard connected on five of six 3-point attempts.

“That was a Green Bay butt-kicking, plain and simple,” UW coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

Of course, by now there’s no shame in losing to Green Bay, which has long established itself as one of the premier mid-major programs in the nation, built on rosters almost exclusively consisting of state players.

But what was galling for Tsipis to watch was to see his team consistently outhustled and outfought.

“You could see from our body language, you could see that ability to continue to fight was not there like I know it’s able to be there,” Tsipis said. “Understanding these rivalry games, we still have two more of them left. I will tell you what, we will not have that type of team overall lack of toughness or energy. You can always play with great energy, even when things aren’t going your way. And that starts with me.”

A year ago the Badgers rallied in the second half behind five 3-pointers by Suzanne Gilreath, who caught the Phoenix off-guard.

Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth said he was determined not to let that happen again as the Phoenix stuck close to Gilreath as she went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. But she was not alone, as the Badgers missed all 16 of their 3-point attempts.

“I don’t know if we were ready for her last year,” Borseth said. “She hit two or three in our face at crunch time and that was the difference. We obviously wanted to close out on her because she’s a phenomenal shooter. She still got some off, but we tried to put a little more pressure on her.”

The Badgers were only marginally better from closer range, as they shot just 26.9 percent for the game and 20 percent in the second half when they were outscored 42-16.

“You should never go 0-for-16 from the 3-point line,” Tsipis said. “Even if you’re a team that relies on 3s, you have to find another way to score the basketball.

“You have to credit Green Bay for how they were able make us take rushed or contested shots. They had good ball pressure and they were very physical.”

Junior Marsha Howard led the Badgers with 13 points and eight rebounds. The Badgers’ post players — Howard, sophomore Abby Laszewski and senior Kendall Shaw — combined for 25 of the team’s 34 points.

The perimeter players made just three of 35 shots.

“Just credit Green Bay,” said senior Cayla McMorris, who was held to six points on 2-for-12 shooting. “They came out and played really hard. I feel like they threw the first punch and we were trying to get back into it. It just didn’t work out.”

NOTES: Superior’s Jessica Lindstrom added 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a steal in 26 minutes for UWGB. … The Phoenix surrendered 18 turnovers to Wisconsin but held advantages in rebounds (37-31), assists (16-11) and blocks (2-1). … UWGB returns to the Kress Center Saturday to face South Dakota State at 1 p.m. before hitting the road for the Cancun Challenge next week. The Jackrabbits received the top spot on espnW’s mid-major poll released Wednesday morning, while Green Bay was slotted third.

-- Copyright (c) 2017, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.