MADISON – The Badgers beat UW-Green Bay 81-60 on Saturday afternoon, starting their first winning streak since November 12th, when the Badgers won their second game of the season. Wisconsin improves to 6-7 on the season, and Green Bay falls to 5-8.
Brad Davison led the Badgers with 18 points. The freshman guard shot just 1/7 from the three-point line but still managed to shoot 50% from the field as he had some tough finishes near the basket. Ethan Happ chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Khalil Iverson was a perfect 5/5 from the field, scoring 12 points.
“They were trying to deny passing lanes and get up under the ball,” Davison said. “Just tried to take pressure away from my teammates… Whether it was getting to the rim and scoring or creating for others, it was definitely in my mindset going into the game.”
Wisconsin held UWGB to their second-lowest scoring output of the entire season. The Phoenix’s previous low was 57 points against Florida A&M on November 24th. The Badgers held their opponent to 40% from the field, which was boosted by some hot shooting in the final minutes of the game.
“I thought we were better in transition,” head coach Greg Gard said of Wisconsin’s defense. “I think we were better on the ball, not allowing penetration. Specifically, against them we knew transition wise we would need to get back…we did a good job of that.”
The Badgers started out hot against UWGB sinking their first ten shots. Aleem Ford hit a pair of threes and hit another tough, contested baseline jumper. Davison also got started early, scoring nine points in the opening six minutes.
Wisconsin led by as much as 16 just seven minutes into the game, but the Badgers would turn it over four times in five minutes and go one-of-eight in that same stretch, as Green Bay got back within striking distance, 29-19. Green Bay had multiple chances to make it even more of a game, but the Badger defense held them off.
After Wisconsin seemingly fell asleep in the middle of the first half, Nate Reuvers would spark a 13-0 run. First, Reuvers caught the ball at the three-point line and stormed down the lane on his way to posterizing a UWGB opponent. The ensuing defensive possession, the freshman emphatically blocked a shot in the lane, leading to a Happ lay-in on the other end. Reuvers again had another strong take resulting in an and-one. Fellow freshman Davison hit two acrobatic lay-ups back-to-back. Happ had another lay-in to cap off the run, essentially putting the game away before halftime. Davison and Happ combined for 25 points in the first 20 minutes.
During the first half, Wisconsin scored more points in the paint, 32, than UWGB did total with 24. With the Badgers scoring a high volume in the paint, they shot 61% in the half, one of their more impressive shooting halves of the season. The Badgers capitalized on UWGB’s nine turnovers, turning them into 17 points on the other end.
With the game well in hand, Gard was able to give the bench plenty of minutes in the second half. Happ played only six minutes in the final period. T.J. Schlundt, Aaron Moesch, Walt McGrory, Charles Thomas, and Alex Illikainen all saw some decent minutes on Saturday.
Up next, the Badgers play Chicago State at 8 pm on Wednesday.