After a stone-cold shooting performance out West last weekend, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team hoped to heat up at home Wednesday night.
The Badgers started hot, opening a 10-point lead in the first 4 minutes, 47 seconds. But they then hit a second-half drought they couldn’t overcome during a 60-55 loss to Washington in a non-conference game before an announced crowd of 3,425 at the Kohl Center.
“It’s hard to explain it,’’ Badgers coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “It’s not, in my opinion, that the other team is doing these spectacular things. It’s just we go on these droughts and we just can’t hit shots for some reason.”
Washington rallied from a 46-38 second-half deficit, using a 20-4 run to seize a 58-50 lead. Guard Jazmine Davis’ 3-pointer gave the Huskies a seven-point margin (57-50) with 2:34 left to play.
“It was just catching it in rhythm,’’ Davis said of the 3-pointer. “We needed it and it definitely picked us up.”
Davis led all scorers with 22 points, including 15 in the second half for Washington (3-1).
Guards Taylor Wurtz and Morgan Paige and forward AnnMarie Brown led the Badgers (2-2) with 11 points apiece. Paige’s 3-point shot pulled Wisconsin within 58-53. The Badgers, who shot 36.8 percent from the floor, were hampered by 22 turnovers and allowed 20 offensive rebounds.
“I think the biggest thing was offensive rebounds,’’ Wurtz said. “It’s something we drill every day and we just need to be disciplined enough to put a body on somebody and go get the boards.”
Washington effectively used a half-court trap to slow Wisconsin’s offense.
“We kept them off-balance and forced them to score from the perimeter,’’ Washington coach Kevin McGuff said. “I think they have good scorers. They just haven’t been making as many shots as I think they are capable of.”
Earlier in the second half after Washington closed within 35-34, Brown scored inside off a pass from guard Nicole Bauman and Wurtz converted a three-point play to put Wisconsin ahead 40-34 with 15:10 left.
Driving baskets by guard Dakota White and Cassie Rochel boosted the Badgers’ lead to 46-38.
But the Huskies then started their comeback.
The Badgers’ defensive focus was on Davis, the Pacific-12 Conference Freshman of the Year last season who entered Wednesday’s game averaging 17.3 points per game. Paige drew the initial assignment of matching up with Davis, though Tiera Stephen, White and Bauman also defended Davis.
Davis had seven points in the first half. She left the game with 17:15 left with an apparent right ankle injury, but she returned after a couple of minutes.
“She’s a tough kid,’’ McGuff said. “That’s what makes her a special player.”
Wurtz led the Badgers with eight points in the first half, helping Wisconsin to a three-point advantage (29-26).
The Badgers — who shot 40 percent from the field in the first half — started quickly. They hit three 3-pointers in taking a 15-5 advantage with 15:13 left in the first half.
The Badgers took that lead by scoring 10 consecutive points — Paige sank a jumper from the right wing, Wurtz scored on a drive down the lane and forward Jacki Gulczynski and Brown each hit 3-pointers.
But the Huskies, using a half-court trap, battled back. Washington scored the next 11 points, before Stephen’s two free throws allowed the Badgers to regain the lead at 17-16 with 8:28 left in the first half.
The Badgers gained some separation when Rochel scored inside off an assist from Bauman and White hit a free throw line jumper for a 26-23 edge. Wurtz then sank a 3-pointer from the right side and UW led 29-23 with 3:14 remaining.
Kristi Kingma’s 3-pointer pulled Washington within 29-26 with 2:56 left in the first half.
McGuff received a technical foul after the buzzer sounded ending the first half. The Huskies had seven team fouls in the first half, the Badgers two. The Badgers made five of six free throws, while the Huskies didn’t attempt a free throw.
After the intermission, Paige made the two free throws on the technical.
The game was the second consecutive game for the Badgers against a Pac-12 foe. The Badgers shot 30.2 percent from the floor but still defeated Washington State 52-44 on Sunday in Pullman, Wash.
Due to several injuries, the Huskies had eight players available.