first_imgDown 14 points with 14:52 remaining on the clock, the members of UW’s women’s basketball team looked each other in the eyes and decided Virginia was not going to end their season.”Coach McDowell said to me, ‘It’s now or never. Now is the time to take it or our season’s going to be over,'” UW junior guard Janese Banks said.It took almost 12 minutes on the game clock for Wisconsin to capture its first lead of the game. But when the clock finally showed all zeros, the scoreboard showed Wisconsin 84, Virginia 78.”I knew we wouldn’t quit,” Banks said. “We came together and started setting goals for ourselves. We just locked down defensively like Coach Stone wanted us to.”The Badgers were down the entire game, but every time the Cavaliers started to pull away, someone would step up to keep Wisconsin within striking distance until it was time to take over.With three and a half minutes remaining in the game, and down 70-68, UW freshman point guard Rae Lin D’Alie had what seemed to be a breakaway that would surely tie the game. But Virginia freshman guard Monica Wright came out of nowhere with a monster block from behind.Following the block, the ball rolled toward the sideline and was picked up by Virginia point guard Sharnee Zoll. Trying to push into fast-break mode, Zoll threw the ball ahead of her. When she regained possession, Banks was waiting for her, feet glued to the floor, and drew the offensive charge.”I noticed that [Zoll] was losing her balance,” Banks said. “So I said to myself, ‘She’s going to take one more step into me, and I’m going to fall.’ “And she did.”The Virginia bench exploded in rage, which subsequently led to a technical foul, and UW junior guard Jolene Anderson’s free throws tied the game at 70.On the ensuing possession, with 3:06 remaining, D’Alie hit a runner along the baseline. The Badgers had their first lead of the game, one they refused to relinquish.After a clutch defensive stop on the other end, Anderson provided the dagger, a play Badgers head coach Lisa Stone called the play of the game.With the shot clock winding down, D’Alie dribbled the ball off her foot, but it rolled right to Anderson, who, with four seconds remaining on the shot clock, squared up and fired a 3-pointer.The ball found the bottom of the net just as the shot clock buzzer sounded to give Wisconsin a five-point lead.”Anything she shoots up, it doesn’t surprise me [when it goes in],” Banks said.Despite cutting the lead to 75-74, it was too little, too late for the Cavaliers.Clutch free throws by D’Alie, Anderson and Banks down the stretch sealed the deal for the Badgers who will move on to face Western Ketucky Wednesday night in the Kohl Center in the WNIT’s Final Four.Anderson finished the game with 30 points, tying her career high set last Sunday against Arkansas State.Banks finished with 19, and Ward finished one point shy of double figures with nine.”I can’t say enough about my semi-senior class,” Stone said of the three juniors. “They led this team. They led this team in a way of fighting back.”The Badgers clawed their way back from 13- and 10-point deficits in the first half, and trailed by as many as 14 after the break. Wisconsin didn’t earn as much as a tie until Anderson converted on the technical free throws.”Everybody believed that we were going to win this game, even when we were down and trailing,” Stone said. “Nobody gave up. And that’s a key to this team, they want to win.”Until the 14:52 mark, Virginia was having its way on offense. Led by senior center Siedah Williams’ 25 and sophomore forward Lyndra Littles’ 24 points, the Cavaliers seemed to be able to score at will.But when push came to shove, Wisconsin’s tenacious defense and timely offense was enough to pull out the victory.”Knowing that we beat a really good team feels awesome, and now we’re one step closer,” Stone said. “We refused to lose.”last_img

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