NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One night after squandering a 16-point lead before holding off winless Tennessee State team, the University of Wisconsin could not put away Arkansas.
The Badgers, who led by 15 points late in the third quarter, turned the ball over twice in the final 11 seconds, the first giving up the lead on a layup by senior guard Malica Monk. The Razorbacks (4-2) pulled out a 69-68 victory over the Badgers at the Challenge in the Music City on Sunday night.
UW (6-1) entered coming off its best start since 2006-07 following wins Friday and Saturday nights.
“We put ourselves in position. We needed one more stop. We’ve got to grow as a team,” coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We have some people who are too concerned, whether it’s foul trouble or missing some shots, but it’s taking away some of their moxie defensively.”
Despite the loss, the Badgers were crowned champions of the event with a 2-1 record. UW won the tiebreaker, giving up the fewest points in the tournament.
Freshman Imani Lewis led a balanced UW scoring attack with 13 points. Junior Kendra Van Leeuwen scored 12 points, senior Marsha Howard had 10 and redshirt freshman Alex Luehring had nine.
Howard was named the tournament MVP and Van Leeuwen was named to the all-tournament team.
The Badgers, who turned the ball over 16 times, trailed 20-17 after one quarter, led 33-31 at halftime and 52-46 after three quarters.
The Badgers used a 17-2 run to go up 50-35 late in the third quarter before the Razorbacks went on an 11-2 run.
“They got some easy baskets in transition that got them going. I thought we had done such a good job until that point of limiting those,” Tsipis said. “They’re an explosive team.”
The Razorbacks raced out to a 16-9 lead, but the Badgers responded to cut their deficit to 20-17 after one period, getting two layups and a pair of free throws from Lewis and a jumper from Jasmine Hale.
UW opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run to lead 28-22, getting 3-pointers from Suzanne Gilreath and Luehring, a free throw from Howard and two jumpers from Hale to finish the run. Laszewski hit a jumper and Gilreath added a 3-pointer to go into halftime with a 33-31 lead. Luehring, Gilreath, Abby Laszewski, Hale and Lewis each scored six points in the first half.
The Badgers hit 13 of 33 shots in the first half, but only went 4-for-17 on 3-pointers. Arkansas shot 13 of 31 in the first half and 2 of 8 from long range.
After the Razorbacks hit two free throws to tie the score it 35 to open the third quarter, the Badgers responded with a 17-2 run to take a 46-35 lead.
Van Leeuwen hit a jumper and followed with a 3-pointer before Lewis hit a jumper, Howard hit two free throws and added a basket. Baskets by Van Leeuwen, Laszewski and Howard followed to make it 50-35.
“Kendra Van Leeuwen did a great job for us,” Tsipis said. “We have to get Marsha Howard the ball in a position to score more. She only had four shot attempts. She has to make more than four for eight from the line.”
Mason hit two jumpers to stem the tide for the Razorbacks.
A basket by Diamond Bragg sandwiched by two Arkansas 3-pointers pulled the Razorbacks within 52-46 after three periods.
Arkansas used an 11-4 start to the fourth quarter to take a 57-56 lead. Van Leewen hit a 3-pointer and Howard had a jumper and later a free throw to give UW a 62-60 lead with 3:07 remaining.
A basket by Hall made it 66-60 before Mason responded with a jumper with 1:58 to go.
Monk hit a free throw to pull Arkansas within 64-43 but Luehring hit a 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining to give the Badgers breathing room at 67-63.
Howard fouled Chelsea Dungee (20 points) with 48 seconds remaining and Dungee hit both free throws.
On the other end, Dungee fouled Howard, who hit one of two free throws. Dungee then pulled the Razorbacks within 68-67 with two free throws following a foul by Lewis with 18 seconds remaining.
Following a UW timeout, Van Leeuwen turned the ball over and Monk hit a layup with 11 seconds remaining to give the Razorbacks the lead at 69-68.
Following another timeout, Howard turned the ball over with 3 seconds remaining.
Tsipis said he was hoping Howard could get to the basket.
“I put the ball in her hands at the end trying to get that drive because I really thought they’d back off a little bit and she could get all the way there,” Tsipis said. “You’re hoping in a one-point game that you get the ball in bounds and at least get to the free throw line when you’re in the double bonus.
“I do think that defense and rebounding has to be our calling card. We’ve got to get two stops in a row and we win the game.”
The Badgers return to the Kohl Center on Wednesday to duke it out with Duke at 8 p.m., as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The game will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Arkansas 20 11 15 23 — 69
Wisconsin 17 16 19 16 — 68
ARKANSAS (4-2) — Williams 5-10 3-5 13, Dungee 5-11 7-10 20, Mason 5-14 1-2 12, Monk 5-11 3-8 13, Tolefree 2-9 0-0 5, Thomas 1-2 0-0 2, Doumbia 0-0 0-0 0, Gaulden 0-3 1-2 1, Zimmerman 1-5 1-1 3, Totals 24-65 16-28 69.
WISCONSIN (6-1) — Howard 3-4 4-8 10, Lewis 5-8 3-5 13, Karlis 0-3 0-0 0, Luehring 3-10 0-0 9, Van Leeuwen 5-14 0-0 12, Laszewski 4-6 0-0 8, Bragg 1-2 0-0 2, Gilreath 2-6 0-0 6, Hale 4-10 0-0 8, Totals 27-63 7-13 68.
3-point goals — A 5-19 (Dungee 3-5, Mason 1-4, Tolefree 1-6, Zimmerman 0-4), W 7-28 (Karlis 0-3, Luehring 3-10, Van Leeuwen 2-6, Gilreath 2-6, Hale 0-3). Assists — A 11 (Gaulden 4), W 21 (Van Leeuwen 12). Rebounds — A 44 (Thomas 12), W 43 (Lewis 12). Total fouls — A 17, W 22. Att. — NA.