Morgan Paige scored 18 points, including two free throws with 3 seconds remaining, and 11th-seeded Wisconsin held on to beat Illinois 58-57 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.
Illinois, which trailed 54-44 with 6 minutes left, fought back to take a 57-54 lead on Amber Moore's 3-pointer with 42 seconds left. Tessa Cichy made two free throws to get Wisconsin within a point, and Paige's final points at the line earned the victory.
The Badgers finished a perfect 21-of-21 from the free-throw line, led by Paige who made all 10 of her foul shots.
Wisconsin (12-18) now moves on to play Purdue in Friday's quarterfinals at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.
Illinois led 30-20 at halftime before Wisconsin took control in the second half.
“Wisconsin became the most aggressive in the second half,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said. “First half I thought we did a great job of weathering the storm with Karisma (Penn) in foul trouble. And we just needed to step up and play aggressively in the second half, and we didn't.”
Jacki Gulczynski had 15 points and 8 rebounds and Cassie Rochel had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Wisconsin, which out-rebounded Illinois 41-29.
Ivory Crawford led the sixth-seeded Illini (16-13) with 14 points. Moore scored 13 and Adrienne GodBold, the Big Ten's defensive player of the year, had 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Bollant said he believes Illinois has enough quality wins to still make the NCAA tournament.
“We have six wins in the top 50. They're not going to take another team in the NCAA Tournament at large bid that has six top 50 wins. And to have two top 25 wins with Georgia, Nebraska, I think if they say it's quality wins, then we should have that.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.