I feel like things have been a little too negative around the Wisconsin Badgers basketball programs recently. Now, I am not immune from a bit (read: a lot) of Doom Posting during Wisconsin hoops games, but it’s time we reversed the mojo. I touched on the 5 Worst Losses of the Marisa Moseley Era earlier this week and now it’s time to look at the best wins!
This post was much more fun to write than the other one.
Wisconsin Badgers WBB: The 5 Best Wins of the Marisa Moseley Era
Honorable Mention Win(s)
Date: Jan. 23, 2024; Feb. 11, 2023; Jan. 8, 2023
Opponent: vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers; at Minnesota Golden Gophers; vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Final score: 59-56; 76-70, OT; 81-77
Reasoning: The Badgers have won three straight games over their Border Battle rivals and it has, quite frankly, been delicious to enjoy. While the Gophers weren’t some sort of powerhouse last year (in Lindsay Whalen’s final season as head coach) they were favored to win more than 65% of the time in both games.
The overtime win at The Barn last year was especially sweet as the Badgers never quit even when down by five at the end of the game. Maty Wilke and Brooke Schramek hit huge threes to send it to the extra frame and, in a rare occurrence, Wisconsin had far fewer turnovers than their opponent. That game was also a bit of a coming out party for a true freshman Ronnie Porter playing in her hometown (not technically since she’s from St. Paul, but I’m not going to get into all that here).
Wisconsin hadn’t swept the Border Battle season series since 2010-2011 and now they have the chance to do it two years in a row when they come to Twin Cities later this month. While Marisa Moseley hasn’t had the smoothest tenure in Madison, beating your chief rival repeatedly is always welcome and quells a lot of unrest.
5th Best Win of the Marisa Moseley Era
Date: Jan. 16, 2022
Opponent: vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Final score: 49-45
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning percentage: 9.0%
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning margin: -14.3
Total winning margin difference: +18.3
Reasoning: Moseley’s first year had not started the way anyone wanted it to, outside of winning their first game against St. Thomas who was in their first year of D1 competition. The Badgers had picked up a couple more wins after that but were 0-5 in conference play and things didn’t look like they’d get much better with a road trip to the RAC up next on the schedule.
However, after an awful first quarter (Rutgers won it 19-7) the Badgers slowly started chipping away at the Scarlet Knights’ lead until the fourth quarter when UW blew Rutgers out of the water and earned Moseley’s first ever Big Ten win. The final score suggests an ugly game and, buddy, was it ever! But…can a win ever really be “ugly?” I don’t think so, especially when it’s the first one.
UW had 15 steals in this game, led by Halle Douglass and Sydney Hilliard each having four, and forced 25 Rutgers’ turnovers. Crazy what happens when you take care of the ball and the other team doesn’t!
4th Best Win of the Marisa Moseley Era
Date: Nov. 14, 2023
Opponent: vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Final score: 66-64
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning percentage: 28.4%
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning margin: -14.3
Total winning margin difference: +8.3
Reasoning: Here in Year 3 of the Moseley Era, fans were looking for concrete signs of progress and after two convincing wins against overmatched opponents, a date with South Dakota State at the Kohl Center awaited. The Jackrabbits were coming off a season where they went 29-6 and beat Southern Cal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Virginia Tech in the next round. They haven’t won fewer than 20 games in a season since 2010-2011…when they won 19, so suffice to say they have a recent history of success.
Now, this team lost a few players from last year’s squad and was also without Paige Meyer (their starting point guard) due to injury, but they still brought a potent lineup to Madison. The Wisconsin Badgers matched SDSU shot for shot in the first half before taking an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits closed the gap to two in the final frame but couldn’t get over the hump and the Badgers improved to 3-0 on the season with a nice SDSU-colored feather in their cap.
Turnovers again played a key role in this one. The Jackrabbits coughed it up 28 (!!!) times while UW only had 16 and they were all important. SDSU shot better than Wisconsin did and, had they not turned it over as often as they did, probably would’ve completed the comeback. The Badgers don’t often score wins over NCAA Tourney teams so this one was huge. After a tough non-conference slate, the Jackrabbits are mowing down competition in the Summit League (9-0 and in first place) and could find themselves right back in the Big Dance this year.
3rd Best Win of the Marisa Moseley Era
Date: Feb. 27, 2022
Opponent: at Purdue Boilermakers
Final score: 63-62
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning percentage: 10.5%
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning margin: -15.1
Total winning margin difference: +16.1
Reasoning: This game should be combined with the home game against Purdue from earlier in the year when the Badgers scored two (2) points in the first quarter (scored with five seconds left in the period natch), fell behind by as many as 22 points, and STILL came back to win in the largest comeback victory in program history.
The reason I picked the second game as “better” than the first one is because it was on the road and also showed that the Badgers were going to keep battling until the final whistle (of the season in this case) regardless of opponent/score. UW came into this game as losers of three straight after their stirring comeback over the same Boilermakers squad, but shot out of the gate in the first quarter in West Lafayette.
Wisconsin led by nine after the first quarter, by 11 at halftime, and by 14 early in the third quarter and appeared to be cruising towards a big conference road win. However, Jeanae Terry (whomst I love) scored five straight points at the end of the fourth quarter, including a layup with 13 seconds to give Purdue the lead. Then…Halle Douglass happened.
— Wisconsin Women’s Basketball (@BadgerWBB) February 27, 2022
Hot damn she sliced betweens Purdue defenders like a hot knife through butter! There was still time left on the clock though and the Badgers needed a defensive stop to earn the road win. Brooke Schramek provided that stop by stuffing Terry on a drive to the basket and UW swept a Purdue team that needed wins to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble.
2nd Best Win of the Marisa Moseley Era
Date: Jan. 11, 2023
Opponent: at Michigan State Spartans
Final score: 84-80, OT
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning percentage: 7.6%
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning margin: -19.0
Total winning margin difference: +23.0
Reasoning: After starting Big Ten play 0-4, the Wisconsin Badgers got on the board with a home win over Minnesota but they were still looking to build some momentum and winning on the road against Michigan State would certainly do that. As you may have noticed…they were not favored to do so.
Thankfully they don’t play games based on pregame predictions because the Badgers ended up beating the Spartans in overtime and were in control for most of the contest, despite it being so close. UW only trailed for 15 seconds of game time and led for almost 41 minutes! That’s called game control, baby.
You can’t talk about this game without mentioning the brilliance of a certain freshman big named Serah Williams. She scored 31 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked three shots, and also picked up a steal. She shot 13-of-16 (81.3%) from the field and made five of her seven free throw attempts. Williams was also scoring in important moments. From my game recap on my old newsletter: “She scored the first points of the game, the last points of regulation, and six points in overtime. If the Badgers (6-11 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) needed a bucket, they looked to Williams…and she delivered every time!” Williams was beautifully complimented by Maty Wilke (16 points, 2-of-4 3P) in this one to form a potent inside-outside duo potentially previewing a dominant Big Ten tag team…but alas.
While this mini-win streak (two games) wasn’t extended to three (the Badgers got absolutely blasted by Indiana a few days later) winning back-to-back conference games is not something Wisconsin does with any regularity.
The Best Win of the Marisa Moseley Era
Date: Feb. 26, 2023
Opponent: vs. No. 12 Michigan Wolverines
Final score: 78-70
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning percentage: 9.4%
Her Hoops Stats pregame Wisconsin winning margin: -17.0
Total winning margin difference: +25.0
Reasoning: Oh yeah, baby, this is the good stuff. It was Senior Day at the Kohl Center and the Badgers came into the game having won three of their last four games and were looking to secure an opening round bye in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since the tournament expanded. The Wolverines, who came in losers in two of their last three, also had a lot to play for as they were trying to squeak past Ohio State for the final double-bye in the conference tourney.
It is certainly worth noting that Michigan was missing Leigha Brown, their leading scorer and assister, and Laila Phelia, their second leading scorer, in this one, but they still had plenty of talent available. The game started off very even: the two teams were tied after 10 minutes and Wisconsin had a one-point lead at halftime. There were rumblings of an upset, but leading by a single point at halftime isn’t a lot to go on. Heading into the fourth quarter the Badgers had pushed the lead to three and didn’t appear to be phased by anything Michigan was doing.
Michigan, of course, didn’t go down without a fight and they actually held Wisconsin to zero field goals over the final 5:30 of the game, but the Badgers made a dozen free throws in the last two minutes to clinch the huge win. Julie Pospisilova was absolutely electric in her final home game. From my game recap: “Pospisilova dropped 25 points (her second highest total of the season) on an incredibly efficient 10-of-16 shooting from the floor. She added six rebounds, five assists, and two blocks while only turning the ball over twice. She also made all three of her long-range attempts and was a genuine force to be reckoned with all game.”
With the win, the Wisconsin Badgers entered the postseason having won four of their previous five games. They, of course, fell to Purdue in a heartbreaker at the Big Ten Tournament, but they were setting themselves up for a successful third season and the improvement from when Moseley took over to the 2023 BTT was certainly noticeable.
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