Video games between any of the 4 Division I collegiate basketball applications within the state have at all times been noteworthy occasions.
However for UW-Milwaukee ladies’s coach Kyle Rechlicz, video games in opposition to the Wisconsin Badgers imply just a bit bit extra.
Her Panthers squared off in opposition to the Badgers – her alma mater and employer previous to her being employed at UWM in Could 2012 – on Thursday night time on the Klotsche Middle in a pre-Thanksgiving, non-conference tilt matching applications in distinctly totally different locations.
Megan Walstad had a monster sport with 21 factors, eight rebounds and 4 assists in 38 minutes, main the way in which to a 79-67 Panthers victory, whereas getting loads of help from her teammates.
As a crew, UWM turned 17 Badgers turnovers into 23 factors and turned in what was simply their finest taking pictures efficiency at 53.6% (30 for 56).
“Completely it means a bit bit extra,” mentioned Rechlicz of going through UW. The Indianapolis native, then often known as Kyle Black, was a three-point taking pictures ace from 1998-2002 and a co-captain for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 groups that superior to the NCAA Match.
She additionally spent the 2011-12 season in Madison as an assistant after beginning her profession with stints at Cleveland State and Dayton.
“After the sport was over, I mentioned to the crew, ‘Thanks for getting this win,’ and McKaeila Schmelzer whispered in my ear, ‘We acquired this one for you, Coach.’ I don’t put a heavy emphasis on it to my crew,” she mentioned. “This crew responds to having enjoyable, and we’ve been doing that these previous couple of video games.”
UWM was in search of to return to even at 3-3 after dropping their first three video games of the season, a considerably shocking improvement contemplating they’ve nearly all people again from final season’s 20-8 crew that tied for the regular-season Horizon League title.
First-year Badgers coach Marisa Moseley, thought-about a rising star within the trade, had seen her crew endure three consecutive losses, most just lately a extremely embarrassing extra time defeat at dwelling to a Chicago State crew that hadn’t received a sport since Jan. 18, 2020 – a span of twenty-two months and 27 video games.
UWM and UW didn’t play final season with the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in unintended scheduling modifications.
The Badgers had received the earlier two conferences, with the Panthers’ final win coming Dec. 14, 2017, in Madison.
The Panthers maintain the benefit on in-state gamers on their roster at 7 to five, however it was Clarksville, Ohio, product Miquela Santoro who poured in a game-high 14 factors (two shy of her profession excessive) on 7-for-9 taking pictures in 17 first-half minutes because the groups performed their technique to a 42-42 halftime tie.
UWM’s energy is in its inside gamers with the 6-2 Walstad and 6-3 Wittmershaus, but UW had its manner within the opening 20 minutes by taking pictures 66.7% and scoring 22 of its factors within the paint.
The Panthers shot 57.6% themselves with Santoro doing most of her injury with mid-range jumpers.
The sport turned UWM’s manner within the third quarter, with 5 Badgers turnovers serving to pave the way in which to a 19-9 benefit within the 10-minute interval and a 61-51 lead within the sport. Contemplating it was UW’s fifth sport in 10 days, fatigue might nicely have been an element as nicely.
The Panthers put the ending touches on the Badgers within the fourth quarter, and on the finish there was tons to love from Rechlicz’s viewpoint except for Walstad’s large night time.
Santoro set a brand new profession excessive with 19 factors. Wittmershaus had a profession sport of her personal with 15 factors, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocked photographs. And Schmelzer, the sixth-year level guard, canned 4 of 5 three-point makes an attempt.
“Our toughness,” Rechlicz mentioned when requested what stood out most to her afterward. “Each groups performed with a toughness mentality, form of such as you’re going to sacrifice and do something to win. Which is enjoyable – particularly when the officers permit you to play like that.”
Having earned the unofficial title of “State Champion” after successful at Marquette and sweeping UW-Inexperienced Bay on the highway final season, UWM has now received 4 straight in opposition to its in-state rivals. Marquette visits the Klotsche Middle subsequent on Dec. 8.
“Our crew talks about making an attempt to do every little thing they will to indicate that we’re one of many prime groups within the state,” Rechlicz mentioned. “It’s not straightforward to do. We’ve acquired actually good groups within the state. It’s not a straightforward accomplishment.
“However I like these video games. I need our crew to be as challenged as attainable earlier than we hit Horizon League play. It’s actually vital to us that we play the very best groups we will as an alternative of enjoying a neater schedule as a result of these are the video games the place we determine who we’re, and the way we’re going to reply to troublesome moments.”
Rechlicz additionally left little doubt that she believes Moseley, a former longtime assistant at Connecticut, was an important rent by UW.
“She’s an intense coach. You may inform her gamers take pleasure in enjoying for her,” she mentioned. “Her system is superb. I believe she’s a very good coach, and I’m excited to see what they do.
“I truly instructed my crew that we had been going to get their finest sport at the moment, which we did. However I believe that they’re going to be a completely totally different crew come January than they’re proper now. I believe Badger followers will see a a lot improved crew.”