MADISON, Wisc. — Marshall University knew it had a tall women’s basketball task ahead of it when it ventured to Big Ten country to face Wisconsin.
And the Big Ten Badgers showed the Thundering Herd exactly how big they were Tuesday evening.
Wisconsin overcame a poor shooting performance by dominating the rebounding category in a 67-49 win over the Herd at the Kohl Center. The Badgers out-rebounded Marshall, 68-42, and had a whopping 31 offensive rebounds.
Despite the lopsided rebounding numbers, Marshall (3-5) hung tough with the Badgers for more than three quarters, using the outside shot in the second half to get within striking distance.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Shayna Gore and Kristen Mayo cut the Herd’s deficit to 52-45 with 7:36 left, but that was as close as it got.
Marshall went on a five-plus minute cold spell before a Taylor Porter 3-pointer ended the drought. By that point, however, Wisconsin (7-2) had used its size and depth to extend its lead late in the contest.
Porter was strong for the Herd throughout with 16 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Gore added 13 points while Mayo hit double-figures with 10.
After trailing by 11 at halftime, Marshall used the 3-pointer to cut into the deficit before getting a Gore steal and subsequent 3-point play from Porter midway through the third period to cut it to two possessions. The play also resulted in the third foul on Suzanne Gilreath, who had been a thorn in the Herd’s side from the outside in the contest.
Marshall could not take advantage of Gilreath being saddled with foul trouble. The Herd did not have another field goal in the third quarter and Wisconsin used a late Kelly Karlis 3-pointer to push the lead back to double-digits with a 47-37 advantage after three quarters.
In the final stretch of the third period, Marshall missed several looks close at the basket that could have cut into the lead.
Karlis started the final quarter much like she ended the third, scoring five straight points to fuel a 10-2 run that pushed Wisconsin’s lead to 13 before a 3-pointer by Gore.
Wisconsin used its size to gain extra opportunities at the basket in the first half, which produced a 34-23 lead after two periods.
The Badgers struggled from the field in the early going and did not take their first lead until a 3-pointer from Gilreath with 7:08 left in the second quarter.
However, that 3-pointer was the first of two for Gilreath during a 14-2 run that helped Wisconsin take control.
Prior to that 3-pointer, Marshall battled toe-to-toe with the Badgers, using the early play of Porter to forge an early second quarter lead.
After the teams were knotted 13-13 after one quarter, Porter’s 3-pointer opened the scoring in the second, but it would be the last field goal for the Herd for more than four minutes as the Badgers started to take control.
It was a contrast to the beginning of the game when Marshall raced out to a 7-0 lead as Wisconsin missed its first seven field goal attempts. The Badgers were 5-of-24 in the first period.
However, the offensive glass was the saving grace for Wisconsin early. Of the Badgers’ 33 first-half rebounds, 16 were on the offensive end.
Gilreath and Karlis finished with 12 points each to lead the Badgers while Imani Lewis added 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
Marsha Howard added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Marshall returns to action at 5 p.m. Saturday against Cleveland State in the back end of a men’s-women’s doubleheader at Cam Henderson Center. The men’s team plays Toledo at 2:30 p.m.