In an action-packed face-off at a packed State Farm Center in Champaign, the Wisconsin women's basketball team secured a hard-fought victory over the Fighting Illini of Illinois, prevailing with a 67-61 victory. The win marked Wisconsin's first in conference play as they are now 1-3 in the Big Ten, bringing their record to 8-6 overall.
Serah Williams unquestionably shone as the standout performer in the game and delivered an outstanding performance as she clinched her fourth double-double of the season. Williams showcased her skills with an impressive 27 points, a career-high 15 rebounds, and impactful defensive outing with five blocks. Ronnie Porter, not to be outdone, recorded her third double-double of the season, contributing 14 points, 12 rebounds, and a career-high eight assists. Tantalizingly close to a triple-double, Porter also equaled her career-high in steals with five.
Despite Wisconsin's dominance on the boards, grabbing a season-high 16 offensive rebounds and out-rebounding Illinois 47-35, the Illini mounted a late-game surge. Down 11 points with just over three minutes left, Illinois rallied, narrowing the gap to 63-61 with 25 seconds on the clock. However, Wisconsin secured the win even without a field goal in the final three plus minutes.
Despite shooting challenges, with a modest 36.2% from the field and 21.4% from beyond the arc, Wisconsin's proficiency at the free-throw line sealed the victory. Serah Williams, a force in the final quarter with nine points and four rebounds, spearheaded the Badgers' triumph. Porter's well-rounded performance, nearly securing a triple-double, further underscored the team's resilience.
The key to Wisconsin's resilience lay in their exceptional free-throw shooting down the stretch. In the final 26 seconds, Ronnie Porter showcased her composure, going 4-for-4 at the line. Halle Douglass added two crucial free throws, contributing to Wisconsin's remarkable 13-for-18 performance from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and an overall 19-for-25 for the game.
Looking ahead, Wisconsin will face Northwestern on Wednesday January 10th with tip-off set for 6:30 p.m. CST on BTN.