MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin considers the first four minutes
of the second half the most important of the game.
The Badgers will look back at Thursday night's loss to No. 20
Purdue and realize that's when the game started slipping away.Erin Lawless scored a career-high 29 points -- 21 in the first
half as she kept the Boilermakers in the game -- and Purdue beat
Wisconsin 72-67 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.During that critical four-minute period to open the second half,
Wisconsin was 1-for-6 with three turnovers.While that was going on, Purdue was on a 19-4 run that began in
the first half and stretched more than 10 minutes as they opened a
47-42 lead."Whatever that magic ingredient is to cover those four to six
minutes, we need to find it," said Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone.The Boilermakers (8-3) struggled in the first half -- except for
Lawless, who came in averaging 16 points. While Wisconsin (5-5) was
hitting half of its shots in the first half, Purdue was shooting
just 22 percent.But the Boilermakers turned it around in the second half, in
part thanks to a matchup zone defense that frustrated Wisconsin.Purdue pushed its lead to 57-47 with 8:29 left and spent the
rest of the game shooting down attempts by Wisconsin to draw even.The Badgers twice whittled the lead to three points but were
rebuffed each time. Jolene Anderson's 3-pointer pulled Wisconsin
within 57-54 with 5:15 left, but she missed her next attempt from
behind the arc that would have tied it.Stephanie Rich, who led Wisconsin with 20 points, hit two free
throws to cut the lead to 70-67 with 16.9 seconds left.But Katie Gearlds hit two free throws for Purdue, Lawless
blocked Kjersten Bakke's next shot and Purdue closed out the game.
Gearlds finished with 20 points.Janese Banks added 15 points for the Badgers.Purdue coach Kristy Curry said the matchup zone keyed the
Boilermakers' win."You have to constantly remind them that they can do it,"
Curry said. "I told them I thought we were better -- and I'm not
being arrogant or cocky -- but just go find a way to win. Don't play
not to lose. Play to win. There's a difference."The Badgers played without Ashley Josephson, who broke her nose
in practice Dec. 22. The junior had been averaging six points off
the bench after leading the Badgers in scoring last season.