LIVE! Wisconsin at Illinois women's basketball

LIVE! Wisconsin at Illinois women's basketball

FINAL: Illinois 78, Wisconsin 68

The losing streak is over.

After dropping nine consecutive games since a 66-62 victory at Minnesota on Jan. 6, Illinois (10-14, 2-11 Big Ten) has returned to the win column, beating Wisconsin after plenty of close calls in recent weeks.

Alex Wittinger was unstoppable for the first three-plus quarters, supplying 24 points and 12 rebounds on 11-of-16 shooting. The Delano, Minn., native added three blocks in the victory.

Wittinger showed no ill effects from a sprained right ankle that kept her out for the entire second half in a 72-50 loss at Purdue last Thursday. 

On Sunday against the Badgers (11-13, 2-10), Wittinger played 31 minutes, including 19 in the second half. 

Illinois 75, Wisconsin 64, 3:28 left in regulation

Brandi Beasley has hit some big shots in past few minutes for the Illini, with Wisconsin trying to make it hard for Illinois to feed the ball inside to Alex Wittinger.

Beasley's baseline jumper with 3:28 left in regulation even got a backward lean from Nancy Fahey as the shot left the 5-foot-7 guard's hands. 

The Illini lead by double digits late in the fourth quarter, as they attempt to break a nine-game losing streak.

After third quarter: Illinois 67, Wisconsin 59

The Illini had an eight-point lead entering the final quarter of their Jan. 27 game against Northwestern at State Farm Center and wasn't able to hold it.

But, unlike that game against the Wildcats, the momentum appears to be on Illinois' side today against Wisconsin.

Alex Wittinger continues to be a problem for the Badgers. A big one.

Wittinger, who has knocked down 11 of 14 shots, has posted 24 points through the first 30 minutes. That's the most she's scored in a Big Ten game this season, and eight away from her season high of 32 against Sacramento State on Nov. 24. 

Illinois 53, Wisconsin 52, 4:42 third quarter 

Alex Wittinger has been the one player on Illinois that Wisconsin has really had no answer for most of this game.

Wittinger's 16 points have been a difference maker for the Illini, who have needed all of them to stay ahead of the Badgers. The senior forward is 8 of 11 from the field, accounting for most of Illinois' 14 points in the paint. 

That's been enough for the Illini to stay ahead despite the Badgers having 28 points in the paint and outrebounding the Illini 29-22 through the first 25 minutes. 

HALFTIME: Illinois 42, Wisconsin 40  

For only the second time this season, the Illini have the lead at halftime in a Big Ten game. 

Illinois also had a halftime lead against Northwestern at 34-25 on Jan. 27 before the Wildcats rallied in the second half, outscoring the Illini 39-22 over the final 20 minutes to come away with a 64-56 victory over Nancy Fahey's team in Champaign.

It was a timeout midway through the second quarter that appeared to reset things for Illinois against Wisconsin, which had scored six consecutive points before Fahey called it.

The Illini went back to using the dribble drive and made a concerted effort to work the ball inside following Fahey's timeout and outscored the Badgers 15-4 in the final 5:26 of the second period.

Illinois received balanced scoring in the opening 20 minutes, with Alex Wittinger and Brandi Beasley each tallying eight points followed by Arieal Scott (six points) and Ali Andrews (six points). 

The Illini appear to still be careful with Wittinger's minutes, as the senior forward played 12 minutes in the first half. Wittinger's primary two options off the bench to spell Wittinger — Sarah Shewan and Mackenzie Blazek — played 11 and 8 minutes, respectively, in the opening 20 minutes. 

Illinois 39, Wisconsin 35 1:37 second quarter 

Illinois' best form of offense has been going inside out. 

The Illini had gotten away from it for a brief time early in the second quarter, which led to a two-plus minute scoring drought and forced Nancy Fahey to take a timeout after Wisconsin had scored six straight points.

But, Illinois has returned to what worked well for them in the middle portion of the quarter, and consequently have regained their footing.

Lyric Robins' three-pointer put the Illini ahead by 1, 34-33, with 2:55 left in second quarter.

A three-point play from Sarah Shewan 1 1/2 minutes later has led to a four-point lead for the Illini. 

After first quarter: Illinois 23, Wisconsin 21

That's back-to-back home games that Illinois has hit a shot to beat the buzzer after admittedly the Illini had seen plenty of those shots go in against them this season.

And Brandi Beasley has been responsible for both. 

Beasley hit a three-pointer, and drew contact from Jasmine Hale, with 0.6 seconds showing on the clock in the opening period. She knocked down the ensuing free throw for the four-point play. 

Illinois shot 47.1 percent in the first quarter, but again it will be more about the Illini sustaining that level of play into the second quarter, something that proved to be their undoing at Purdue on Thursday. 

Illinois 15, Wisconsin 10, 3:13 first quarter

The Illini have gotten the start they were looking for through the first seven minutes.

Illinois, which has hit 6 of its first 12 shots, even had Cierra Rice bank in a running jump shot in the lane with the clock winding down.

Now, it's about sustaining that start, which has been a problem for the Illini, especially when it comes to the first rotation off the bench. 

Ali Andrews, who had a team-leading 15 points last Thursday at Purdue, has knocked down two early three-pointers against the Badgers, while Alex Wittinger has added four points. 

Wisconsin at Illinois, 2 p.m. today (BTN Plus, WDWS 1400 AM)

Good news for the Illinois women's basketball team.

Alex Wittinger, who was listed as a game-time decision after leaving last Thursday's game at Purdue with a right ankle injury, went through pre-game warmups and was listed in the starting lineup for today's 2 p.m. game against Wisconsin at State Farm Center.

Wittinger played a season-low 11 minutes against the Boilermakers and missed the entire second half of the game as the Illini suffered their ninth straight loss, falling 72-50 to Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.

Illinis (9-14, 1-10 Big Ten) welcomes in a Wisconsin team that is also in a funk, as the Badgers (11-12, 2-9) have lost eighth of their past nine games. 

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