A career night for Wisconsin junior guard Nicole Bauman was spoiled Thursday night against Ohio State as her 31-point effort for the Badgers was no match for an unstoppable Buckeye scoring attack in a 85-73 defeat at the Kohl Center.A three pointer in the opening seconds of the game by Ohio State’s (14-7, 6-3 Big Ten) freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell, the nations leading scorer with 25.9 points per game, set the tone for a half that would be mostly dominated by a Buckeye offense that dropped 46 points in the opening 20 minutes compared to Wisconsin’s 33.Starting just 1 of 7 from the field with a lone jumper from Nicole Bauman in the first minute, Wisconsin (7-13, 3-7 Big Ten) found themselves in an early 15-2 hole just four minutes into action. With Wisconsin’s defense looking out of sync, the Buckeyes consistently found themselves with wide-open jump shots, which were quickly taken advantage of. Leading the opening surge was Mitchell who contributed seven points during the stretch.While it looked like the game might get away from Wisconsin early, a surge by the Badgers in the mid-minutes of the first half gave the Kohl’s Center crowd some energy. Bauman and Cassie Rochel combined for 12 points in a 16-9 run which cut the Buckeye lead down to 24-18 after 12 minutes played.Even with Ohio State’s Mitchell spending the majority of the closing minutes of the half on the bench, Ohio State’s offense didn’t miss a beat, as sophomore forward Shayla Cooper and junior guard Ameryst Alston responded with a run of their own against at an overmatched Badgers defense to close out the half.Ohio State’s head coach Kevin McGuff credited a well-rounded offensive attack to his team’s performance, as the Buckeyes shot 50 percent (33-for-66) from the field by the end of the night.“We had four players in double figures, and that’s why I think we’re at our best,” McGuff said. “Overall, I thought we were really good on offense. We had stretches where we were good on defense and stretches where we weren’t. When we weren’t, Wisconsin really made us pay.”A recurring theme in the first half was Ohio State’s ability to grab offensive rebounds and dominate points in the paint, a category the Buckeyes led 14-6. Ohio State’s Alston had a commanding jump shot, which helped her score 11 first half points. Ohio State as a whole shot 18-for-35 from the field going into halftime.For the Badgers in the first half, Bauman was the lone bright spot offensively for the Badgers, accounting for nearly half of the team’s 33 total points, including a 3-for-6 performance behind the three-point stripe that kept Wisconsin in the game. The rest of the Badgers combined for just 6 of 23 from the field (26 percent) and looking for answers as they trailed the Buckeye’s by 13 heading into break.Bauman, who appeared noticeably disappointed despite one of the best performances in school history, put it bluntly when reflecting on her gameplay.“When I was open, my teammates were able to get me the ball, because they knew that my shot was going in,” Bauman said.The offensive clinic continued for Ohio State in the second half, but Wisconsin managed to keep pace in the opening minutes, matching their opponents shot-for-shot and exchanging nine points each through four minutes.Similar to the first half, the Badgers scored eight unanswered points on a run that found them down just eight points with a little under eight minutes to play. The Wisconsin run was led by two 3-point baskets by Bauman to make the score 59-67 OSU.Unfortunately for Wisconsin, even a team-record 12 three-pointers couldn’t stop the momentum-killing efforts of Mitchell, who immediately knocked down a three of her own to end Wisconsin’s surge on a night where the Buckeyes were simply on fire from start to finish.Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey credited the talent on Ohio State’s side for being able to shut down any momentum the Badgers tried to generate.“You have All-Americans over there. We don’t have All-Americans on our side,” Kelsey said. “Not to say our kids can’t score, but we needed another scorer tonight. They’re very athletic and when they catch it, they are ready to shoot. There’s not thinking about it. And they can all handle the ball and create a shot for themselves or others.Bauman’s eight 3-pointers individually were a school record for both the men’s and the women’s team at the Kohl Center. A major contributor to Bauman’s success was junior guard Tessa Cichy, whose 10 assists were a career high. In terms of scoring, the team’s performance could be considered a one-player effort, as senior forward Annemarie Brown was the only other Badger in double figures with 10 points.The Badgers will look to bring their four-game slide to a halt against Illinois this Sunday, Feb. 1, with tip-off at 2:00 p.m.
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