March 5, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS -- Northwestern outscored Wisconsin in the second half, but came up just short, falling 60-51 to the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament Thursday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse. Freshman Brittany Orban (North Canton, Ohio/Hoover) led NU with 18 points -- including 13 in the second half -- thanks to a 5-of-9 effort from the field and 5-of-6 makes from the free throw line.
Both teams had difficulty getting in a rhythm in the first half, combining to shoot south of 30 percent. Northwestern did not allow a Badger field goal until the 17-minute mark when Rae Lin D'Alie hit a two from the top of the key, which gave Wisconsin a 4-0 advantage.
Scoring was at a minimum the rest of the half and Wisconsin held a 25-12 lead at the break. The second half was a different story. Northwestern came out of the locker room a new team, scoring on its first three possessions to post six points quick points to pull within seven, 25-18, with 18:14 on the clock. A triple from the elbow extended by Jenny Eckhart (Libertyville, Ill./Carmel) pulled Northwestern to within six, 27-21, with 16:40 remaining.
Wisconsin extended its lead to 11 at the 14:31 mark, but NU went on a 7-2 run to come to within five, 36-31. Northwestern used a 60-percent shooting effort through the first 10:30, including 4-of-7 from three-point land to make things interesting. The 'Cats continued to chip away at Wisconsin's slim margin until two free throws by Orban made it a 3-point affair -- the closest margin of the game -- with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half.
But the Badgers went on a 13-2 run to build a 14-point lead with 5:32 left. Still, Northwestern kept fighting. The 'Cats pared the lead to seven, 54-47, with 3:12 remaining. But that was as close as the 'Cats would get as Wisconsin hung on for the win.
(Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and Amy Jaeschke
(Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) added 15 and 10 points, respectively.