Thu. Final: UW Women 60, N'Western 51
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- All those early points off turnovers gave Wisconsin just enough room to hold off the comeback it knew was coming from Northwestern.
Alyssa Karel scored 17 points Thursday as the Badgers beat the Wildcats 60-51, the ninth straight first-round loss for Northwestern in the Big Ten women's tournament.
"In the second half, they were trying to stretch our defense," Karel said. "But after a few timeouts, we had the best ball pressure we've had all year. That's where we turned it around."
More than half of Wisconsin's points in the first half came off Northwestern turnovers. Still, the Wildcats cut a 13-point halftime deficit to just three points midway through the second half before the Badgers tightened their defense.
"We addressed our rebounding at halftime and our ball pressure was good," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said. "We're a defensive team ... and we came out right away with that."
Wisconsin (17-13), the tourney's No. 7 seed, advanced to Friday's quarterfinals against second-seeded Michigan State (20-9).
Despite poor shooting at the start, the Badgers took advantage of seven turnovers by Northwestern (7-23) in the first 5 minutes.
"The first half, obviously, we just got off to an awful start," Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. "We bounced back in the second half and made it a great game, but it's tough to come back."
A 3-pointer by Rae Lin D'Alie and a free throw by Tara Steinbauer pushed Wisconsin's lead to 23-10 before the first basket by Northwestern scoring leader Amy Jaeschke, who had missed her first six shots. The Badgers led 25-12 at the half, took their biggest lead at 54-40 and never led by fewer than seven points the rest of the game.
Steinbauer and Jade Davis added 11 points each for Wisconsin. Brittany Orban led Northwestern with 18 points.
Kristin Cartwright added 15 points for the Wildcats and Jaeschke finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, but she also had seven of Northwestern's 21 turnovers.
"It might have been nerves," Cartwright said. "We were playing hard but making mistakes we don't usually make and got rattled."
Northwestern, which beat Wisconsin 49-46 in the regular season, was never in this game because of its repeated turnovers. The 10th-seeded Wildcats managed only one field goal attempt over the first 5 minutes because of the errors, and Wisconsin jumped to a 10-2 lead despite missing its first six shots.
A brief flurry with 3-pointers by Cartwright and brought Northwestern within 17-10, but the Wildcats were scoreless the next 4 minutes as Wisconsin began pulling away.
Jaeschke hit her first four shots of the second half, then Orban hit a 3-pointer and two free throws to cut Wisconsin's lead to 41-38 midway through the period.
Wisconsin then broke the game open with a 13-2 run and built its lead to 54-40 on a basket by Caitlin Gibson with less than 6 minutes remaining.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)