Badgers survive shootout in OT

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoWhile many were figuratively knocked to the floor by the play of Winthrop down the stretch, head coach Gregg Marshall was literally floored as No. 11 Wisconsin turned the tables on the Eagles in overtime.After weathering the late Winthrop storm that saw the Eagles discard a late double-digit UW lead, the Badgers got hot in OT and built a nine-point lead they would not relinquish, eking out an 82-79 overtime victory over the NCAA’s premiere giant hunter.”Oh, it stings. Yeah, it stings,” said Marshall, who took a nasty spill midway through UW’s overtime run while arguing a traveling call on his team. “Wisconsin moved up to No. 11 today (in the polls), so we’re ’11 B.’ That’s the way it is, they’re 11, we’re ’11 B.'””You can tell by the way both teams were playing, there wasn’t any lack of respect for one another,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “That was a hard-fought, toe-to-toe, December game.”The Badgers (8-1, 0-0 Big Ten) narrowly avoided becoming the latest upset victim for the small school in Rock Hill, S.C. (enrollment: 6,600), which has toppled Providence, Clemson, Marquette and Mississippi State in recent years, as well as narrowly missing out on dealing North Carolina, Gonzaga, Tennessee and Maryland losses as well.The Eagles (6-3, 0-0 Big South) made 15-of-25 shots from beyond the arc (compared to 6-of-25 by UW) and were led by a stellar performance from senior guard Torrell Martin, who made 7-of-11 three-pointers and tallied 31 points.Martin had a chance to win the game for the Eagles with a three-point attempt at the second half buzzer, but hit the rim and allowed for overtime to ensue.”I had a great shot, just didn’t knock it down,” Martin said. “I was about as open I could get. … I just didn’t make the play when I needed to make it.”The game appeared to be well in hand for Wisconsin with 9:20 remaining in the second half, as the Badgers held a comfortable 14-point lead and hadn’t really been threatened since halftime. Then, all of a sudden, the Eagles became white-hot, scoring on nine of their last 10 possessions, culminating with the upset-minded squad taking a two-point lead with only 54 seconds left on the clock.”We were just trying to take it right at them,” Martin said after the game. “Really, it was about good players stepping up and making big time shots, because Wisconsin was playing great defense at the end.””Once they started hitting shots, their energy picked up,” said senior forward Alando Tucker, who poured in 21 points. “Their defense picked up their offense.”While Winthrop was making it look easy, on the other end of the floor, UW’s conversion of a final shot to tie the game was more of a struggle than passing a kidney stone. The Badgers needed four shots, three offensive rebounds and two stoppages of play before the unheralded Michael Flowers — who had 21 points, five assists and two steals — snagged an offensive rebound and put it back in with 11 seconds remaining to tie the score.”In order for him to get that opportunity, we had to fight for the other ones,” Ryan said. “They were scrapping, we were scrapping … he gets the last opportunity. He’s an opportunistic young man.”Wisconsin was hardly out of the woods yet, however, as the Eagles had enough time for a final shot. Winthrop came down the floor and somehow found Martin open with the clock winding down, but the Columbia, S.C., native missed the open look.”After watching him put the ball in the hoop all game long and [then seeing him] have the ball in his hands with point-something seconds left on the game clock, my heart sank,” Flowers said.Gifted with second life, the Badgers gave Winthrop some of its own medicine, scoring on its first eight overtime possessions (with only nine overall) and building that nine-point lead they would not let go this time.”Once we got that second chance … we knew we had it,” Tucker said. “We sat down at the end of regulation, and I looked everyone in their eyes and we had confidence. [I knew] it was our game now.”While the big plays by Flowers and Martin defined the game, what might’ve truly been the tale of the tape was Wisconsin’s ability to outmuscle Winthrop inside. While the Badgers and Eagles both scored 26 points in the paint, UW out-rebounded their Big South foe by 40-18 and made 34 trips to the line, compared to only 10 for Winthrop.”The real key was us getting on the glass, there’s no two ways about it,” Ryan said. “It also helped us getting to the free throw line, getting on the glass.”The Badgers will have a chance to catch their breath before playing their true first road game of the season Saturday against in-state rival Marquette, ranked No. 17.last_img

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