Free throws have been the bane of Ethan Happ and the Wisconsin Badgers this season. On Thursday afternoon in Madison Square Garden they were the savior, as the No. 9 seed Badgers advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament with a 59-54 win over the No. 8 seed Maryland Terrapins.
On the day, the Badgers were 20 of 24 from the free throw line and the usual Hack-A-Happ scenario couldn’t play out as he went 6 of 7 from the charity stripe on his own. That helped to offset a poor day from the field for the 1st team All-Big Ten selection — finishing just 4 of 10 from the field.
Happ still managed to lead the team in scoring, putting up 14 points. Overall, four of Wisconsin’s five starters were in double figures as Brad Davison had 13, Khalil Iverson had 11 and Brevin Pritzl had 10. Aleem Ford was the only one not in double figures, but he had seven points and three rebounds.
Wisconsin spent much of the second half at the free throw line and it was actually a good thing.
UW had extended shooting droughts in both halves, but that free throw shooting came up big in those droughts.
It also helped the Badgers defense came to play on the day as well. While Kevin Huerter scored a game high 20 points, no one else really got going and the Terps shot just 44 percent from the field. The 54 points were also a season-low for Maryland.
Wisconsin went 9:21 towards the end of the first half without hitting a field goal, but its defensive help came up big and UW managed a 28-26 lead heading in to halftime. That lead came courtesy of a Pritzl three-pointer with just 12 seconds remaining in the half.
The junior guard would also hit the eventual game winner, knocking down a key jumper from the top of the key with 28 seconds left to give UW a 55-53 cushion. From there, the Badgers sank four of six free throws and Iverson got a key steal with under 10 seconds to play to ice the game away.
Wisconsin moves on to take on No. 1 seed Michigan State tomorrow in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament. Tip-off is scheduled for 11am CT tomorrow, live on BTN.