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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 01, 2013 12:19 am

Wisconsin women upset No. 7 Penn State 63-61

The Associated Press

Penn State coach Coquese Washington realizes life on the road is tough.

Even though the Nittany Lions routed Wisconsin by 44 points two weeks ago, Washington felt no comfort at the Kohl Center on Thursday night.

Morgan Paige scored a career-high 33 points to lead Wisconsin to a 63-61 upset over seventh-ranked Penn State.

Tiera Stephen scored the game-winning basket on a putback with 5 seconds left at the Kohl Center for the Badgers (10-11, 2-6 Big Ten), who stopped the Nittany Lions' 11-game winning streak.

Alex Bentley drove the length of the floor and missed a layup at the buzzer for Penn State (17-3, 7-1), which suffered its first Big Ten loss.

"I never felt comfortable," Washington said. "I felt like Wisconsin was in a rhythm offensively all night and we never got in a rhythm on either end of the floor. Even when we took the lead in the first half, I still didn't feel comfortable with the flow of the game."

Stephen scored five points and had 11 rebounds and Jacki Gulczynski added 16 for Wisconsin. The victory against a ranked opponent was the Badgers' first since a 48-45 win against No. 20 Michigan State on January 14, 2010.

Maggie Lucas scored 18 points and Mia Nickson added 11 for the Lady Lions.

Wisconsin raced to a 17-6 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, but Penn State was able to chip away during a four-minute plus scoring drought. Lucas and Dara Taylor combined for seven points in a 13-0 run that gave Penn State the lead going into the break at 33-29.

Penn State led by as many as seven points early in the second half, but Wisconsin never far behind. With every mini run the Nittany Lions strung together, the Badgers would answer with a key steal or basket.

Washington said it didn't hurt the Badgers to have a fiery Wisconsin crowd in its corner.

"They shot the ball certainly a lot better than they did at our place," Washington said. "They played with a lot of energy and the crowd. They came out with certainly a lot focus, a lot of energy, a lot of intensity and made shots."

Wisconsin wrestled the lead back at 55-53 when Gulczynski made a 3-pointer at the top of the key, but Lucas came back on the other end with a basket. The teams traded the lead four times with less than four minutes remaining, and Paige provided momentum in the closing minute for Wisconsin.

She made a deep 3-pointer from 25 feet to give Wisconsin a 61-59 lead with 58 seconds left, but Bentley tied the game at 61 with an off-balance jumper with 27 seconds to go.

The Badgers have relied heavily on Paige's scoring prowess this season. The junior guard, who shot 11 of 19 from the field against Penn State and 5 of 10 from beyond the arc is the team's leading scorer at 17.1 ppg. She has posted double-figure scoring in 18 of 21 games this season.

Wisconsin has weathered a tough season playing with a thin roster. Only nine players dress since two players are sidelined with season-ending injuries and another two decided to transfer.

Meanwhile, the Lady Lions, who whipped the Badgers at home two weeks ago for their most lopsided victory since 2001, host Purdue (18-3, 7-1) on Monday with the Big Ten standings lead on the line.

Prior to the Wisconsin loss, Penn State had won 11 consecutive games since a 67-52 loss at Connecticut on Dec. 6. Penn State's start is their fastest since starting 22-2 to open the 1993-94 season.

Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey said she was excited to see the Badgers earn a statement win in her second season with the program.

"We just persevered," Kelsey said. "The kids really believe they can win these games. "We believe they can do it and when they finally see it for themselves we can hold them to that standard now.

"We were just knocking on the door in a lot of these games and we can't break through. If we were going to break through, this was a nice one to break through on."