Despite another hard-fought affair, the Wildcats couldn’t fight their way back to victory — a familiar refrain all season long.
On Senior Night, Northwestern (9-19, 2-15 B1G) lost to Wisconsin (10-19, 5-12 B1G) 62-57 in the team’s final game at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2022-23. Sydney Wood paced the ‘Cats with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block, while Caroline Lau contributed nine points and two steals off the bench. Julie Pospisilova carried the freight for the visiting Badgers, pouring in 20 points and three steals, and Maty Wilke also added 17 on three threes.
Wisconsin opened the scoring on a three by Wilke, but Laya Hartman — making her first start of the season — answered with a layup after a steal by Wood. After a scoring drought for both teams, Pospisilova and Courtney Shaw exchanged close shots, but a Caileigh Walsh bucket and a Hartman triple gave NU a 9-8 lead halfway through the first.
Out of the break, the Badgers’ Serah Williams gave UW a 10-9 lead, and great ball movement led to an open Avery LaBarbera trey, forcing Joe McKeown to call timeout down four. Walsh then responded with a three, and Caroline Lau nailed two free throws to give NU a 14-13 advantage. However, a foul on Lau gave Pospisilova three free throws, and Wilke proceeded to drill her third three of the quarter. Wisconsin led 19-14 after one.
After nearly a minute and a half of scoreless play to open the second, Brooke Schramek made two free throws and then spun in for two, making it 23-14 Wisco. Paige Mott finally ended Northwestern’s scoring drought with a converted free throw, but the ‘Cats continued to have no answers for Pospisilova and Schramek. After strong offensive rebounding led to two for Mott, it was Wisconsin 28, Northwestern 17 with five minutes left in the half.
Subsequent to a Badger timeout, the Wildcats made their living at the free throw line, adding four courtesy of Shaw and Wood, and Rainey posited a driving layup to reduce the lead to seven. Nearly three minutes later, Wisconsin broke a scoring drought with a Wilke floater. At the break, the Badgers led Northwestern 32-26; the Wildcats shot only 25% from the field and had nine turnovers.
Williams started the second half with a jumper, and Pospisilova continued her hot shooting. The Badger onslaught extended with a Schramek three, but Wood converted a much-needed and-one to make it 39-29 Wisconsin.
Down 11, Jillian Brown sliced through the defense for a strong layup. Following the under-five media timeout, Wood nailed two more free throws, rendering it a seven-point game. Then, Rainey secured a rebound and went straight ahead for a three-point play; suddenly, the ‘Cats trailed only 40-36. From there, a Lau takeaway fueled a Wood corner three, and Wisconsin was forced to call timeout.
A Pospisilova triple took some wind out of the purple and white sails, and LaBarbera made it rain once more. The ‘Cats remained persistent, though, with Lau collecting another steal and feeding Walsh for two. After 30 minutes of play, the Badgers led the Wildcats 48-43.
Schramek found space for an early layup in the fourth, but Lau sank a three that made it 50-46 Wisconsin with 8:25 to go. After a series of misses, the first-year then converted a layup, and the Badger lead was only two.
LaBarbera and Pospisilova were not done with deep shots, though. The guards hit two from beyond the arc, which gave UW an eight-point advantage with 5:40 left.
When the Wildcats needed offense, Wood stepped up with consecutive buckets. At the under-five, Northwestern trailed 56-52.
Out of the timeout, Mott converted a driving two down low. Subsequently, Lau maneuvered in for a layup, which tied the game at 56-56 with 2:20 left.
With 48 seconds left, Pospisilova dished inside to Wilke to give Wisconsin a two-point margin. Walsh proceeded to miss a hook shot on the other end, and UW called timeout with 28.5 to go.
NU was unsuccessful in fouling the Badgers, and Wilke cruised to a layup that gave Wisco a four-point lead. Subsequent to a timeout from McKeown, Walsh made just one of two free throws. With Wisconsin in the bonus, LaBarbera converted two from the stripe, and the game was out of reach. The Wildcats ultimately lost 64-57.
Northwestern will finish its regular season on Sunday against Nebraska in Lincoln. The game will be at 1 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.