The UW-Milwaukee Panthers Women’s Basketball team opened their 2013-2014 season with a loss to the Wisconsin Badgers 85-60 on Thursday night at the Klotsche Center. This marks second consecutive year that Panthers Head Coach Kyle Rechlicz has coached against her alma mater. The Panthers lost last year’s contest 74-56 in Mason
The Panthers started off the game on a 9-2 run. Momentum shifted to the Badgers at the end of the first half as Dakota Whyte made a 3 pointer at the buzzer to give the Badgers a four point lead.
“I thought we came out in the first half and did everything that we had in our game plan,” Panthers Head Coach Kyle Rechlicz said after the game. “We attacked them first and we really had the energy that we needed to win the game in the first half.”
The Panthers went on to shoot just under 29 percent from the field in the second half. The team missed the three-point shooting of Emily Decorah, who did not play due to a knee injury. After setting records with their three-point shooting last year, the Panthers ended up making 3 of the 16 threes that they took.
“It was hard for us not having Emily Decorah on the perimeter tonight,” Rechlicz said. “We’re hoping to get her back here shortly.”
Preseason All-Horizon First Team member Angela Rodriguez was one of two Panther players to score in double figures. With just over two minutes left in the game, and Rodriquez on the bench, the Panthers were trailing by 30 points.
Rechlicz said that the difference between the first half and the second half was a decline in the aggressiveness from key players.
While the Panthers struggled to make shots in the second half, the Badgers shot over 54 percent in the second half of the game. Five Wisconsin players ended the game with double-digit scoring figures.
“All of our guards can shoot, all of our posts can shoot,” Badgers Head Coach Bobbie Kelsey said after the game. “We work on it and we make it a point to tell them, if you can’t shoot, we cannot put you out there.”
The Panthers tried to stay in the game in the second half, closing a nine-point gap into a manageable four-point game. That is when the Badgers went on a 16-2 run that gave them a daunting 18 point lead. Wisconsin senior guard Taylor Wurtz had eight of her 13 points and a key assist in the run.
“We went into a 4-out-1-in, and the lane sort-of opened up,” Wurtz said. “It’s easy to find lanes when (Micah Johnson’s) scoring down low.”
Johnson, a transfer from Connecticut, led both teams in scoring with 21 points.
“We felt like we had to go one-on-one with her, which is not the best option,” Rechlicz said. “With so many shooters on the perimeter…you really can’t stand to double too much.”
Rechlicz and the Panthers hope that playing tough games out of conference will help to prepare the team for their conference games.
“I don’t mind playing a tough opponent,” Rechlicz said. “These non-conference games are just a test to get you ready for the conference season.”
The Panthers host Western Illinois on November 17, at 2 p.m. Western Illinois comes to the Klotsche Center with a record of 2-1 this season.