GREEN BAY — Jonathan Tsipis identified two areas where the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team fell short on Saturday: Rebounding and mental toughness.
UW-Green Bay senior Jen Wellnitz was big problem for the Badgers, too.
The senior guard and Blackhawk High School alumna scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in the second half to spark the Phoenix to a 55-46 victory over the Badgers at the Kress Center.
Wellnitz, who was the only double-figure scorer for UW-Green Bay (4-4), also had four steals and five rebounds as the Phoenix beat the Badgers four the fourth time in the past five meetings.
Senior forward Marshall Howard finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Badgers (7-3), who also received 11 points from senior guard Kelly Karlis. Freshman forward Imani Lewis had nine points and seven rebounds for UW, which was outrebounded 46-38.
“I thought rebounding is where we lost the game,” Tsipis said. “I think there are times when we felt sorry for ourselves. In a game like this when you go possession by possession and allow a missed shot, missed defensive assignment, or missed box out, you can’t let that carry over to the other side of the floor.”
UW took a 30-25 lead three minutes into the second half, but Wellnitz, who was in early foul trouble and only played 20 minutes, scored seven points in the third quarter — including a steal and a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left — as the Phoenix pulled ahead 42-36 entering the fourth.
With UW-Green Bay leading by four points in the fourth quarter, Wellnitz grabbed two offensive rebounds after misses from teammates and completed the possession with a layup before hitting a jumper the next time down to give the Phoenix a 52-44 lead.
“Obviously they made a huge shot to get the momentum at the end of the third, but I thought when we got it to four we were getting some stops, we weren’t fouling, but then we gave up three straight possessions where they got second-chance opportunities,” Tsipis said.
Wellnitz had plenty of energy in the second half after playing just five minutes before the break.
“I was just tired of standing around, you know what I mean?” Wellnitz said. “I had plenty of time for rest because I had those two fouls in the first quarter and didn’t play at all in the second. I had to do something, because if I wasn’t there for my team in the first (half), I wanted to be there for them in the second.”