There was nothing wrong with the way the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team shot from the floor Sunday.
It was the Badgers’ rebounding, transition defense, ball-handling and overall sense of urgency that fell short in an 89-77 loss to Drake at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sophomore forward Lizzy Wendell scored 33 points to lead the Bulldogs to their first victory in four games this season.
Junior forward Michala Johnson finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots for UW (1-2), which shot 55.7 percent in the loss.
“Give Drake credit, they were hungry for a win,” UW coach Bobbie Kelsey said. “They were 0-3, they were tired of losing and we just happened to be on the schedule today. We didn’t play our best ball.”
UW’s shooting percentage was solid, but the Badgers were outrebounded 36-24 and committed 18 turnovers.
“They out-rebounded us pretty well, but they had 15 (offensive) boards and that’s never a good thing,” Kelsey said.
Sophomore point guard Caitlin Ingle finished with 14 points and 12 assists, and freshman guard Becca Jonas and freshman forward Maddy Dean added 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs.
Drake also shot well (53 percent) — although with a lower degree of difficulty, according to Kelsey.
“We let Wendell go off for 33 points and that certainly is not a way to win, letting one player pretty much beat you,” Kelsey said. “Their shots were easy shots; I wouldn’t say our shots were easy. They had 20 assists on 35 made shots so that’s never going to help you.”
Wendell hit 14 of 19 shots, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
“Lizzy had a phenomenal night shooting and just her poise on the floor I thought was incredible,” Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “(The Badgers are) a little bit bigger, they have a little bit more athleticism, but we had a lot of heart.”
Johnson’s basket with 4 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half gave UW its only lead at 32-30.
The Badgers trailed 43-38 at halftime before Wendell scored Drake’s first seven points of the second half to fuel a 12-2 run that helped the Bulldogs build a 16-point lead.
UW pulled within 67-59 with 10:43 left, but got no closer.
Kelsey was less than enthused with the Badgers’ effort at times.
“They got the ball when it counted,” she said. “We were kind of standing around and not diving on it and not getting it. We have to get back in transition and we have to box out. When you give a team multiple opportunities on one possession, then you’re not helping yourselves.”
This week’s trip to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam figures to be anything but a vacation for the Badgers. UW’s semifinal opponent Thursday is No. 2-ranked South Carolina, which could move to No. 1 in this week’s Associated Press poll following top-ranked UConn’s loss last week.
Even though UW shot well, Kelsey said offensive decision making will be a focal point this week.
“As a unit we have to figure out these zones,” she said. “They’re not hard, but we’re not making the right decisions at the right times and that’s part of the problem.”