If nothing else, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team was able to cleanse the palate Wednesday night.

Coming off a distasteful performance Monday at Marquette, the Badgers were able to rebound with an 82-54 victory over Texas Rio Grande Valley at the Kohl Center.

The biggest benefit of the easy victory, coach Jonathan Tsipis said, was “to get that bad taste out of our mouth.

“We knew that Monday night is not where we are at with our program.”

Senior Cayla McMorris was able to bounce back from a tough night in the 88-65 loss at Marquette by scoring 18 points to lead the Badgers (6-4).

After shooting just 2-for-12 against Marquette, she was 7-for-10 from the field against Rio Grande Valley (9-3) and got things going the right way by hitting two 3-pointers to open the game.

“My teammates were able to get me the ball when I was open,” McMorris said. “I feel like that set the tone for the rest of the game for me, being able to knock down those shots,

“As a team we knew Monday we didn’t really show our best. We felt like we had to bounce back this game and just shake that off.”

McMorris has scored in double figures in eight of her past 10 games.

Although the level of competition was far different, Tsipis was generally pleased with the way his team executed its plan.

“The frenetic pace we played at Monday night forced us into trying to make too many plays individually,” Tsipis said. “I felt like we got multiple touches on a lot of possessions. We maybe had a good shot and got it to a great shot.

“Is the defensive level from Rio Grande Valley different from versus Marquette? No question. But can you put somebody back on their heels by rebounding the ball better, taking better care of the basketball?”

The Badgers did most of those things most of the night. They outrebounded the Vaqueros 46-30, led by nine by junior Marsha Howard. The Badgers also had 22 assists on 30 field goals, including six assists by sophomore Kendra Van Leeuwen and five by freshman Niya Beverley.

Tsipis applauded Beverley’s effort.

“Niya’s growth as a freshman has been huge. We count on her to stop the ball every game with her athletic ability,” Tsipis said. “She’s definitely getting a better grasp of the game at the next level.”

The Badgers also got good production off the bench as sophomore Suzanne Gilreath scored 15 points and sophomore Courtney Fredrickson had 13.

The Badgers will continue their busy schedule with a road trip Friday to Butler before returning home Sunday to face Savannah State.


Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.