Badgers beat Northwestern 62-46 for third straight victory

MADISON, Wis. — D’Mitrik Trice knows when opponents double team Ethan Happ in the post, it creates opportunities for the Badgers on the perimeter.

Saturday was an example of what happens when Happ finds open teammates and they’re sharp from outside.

Happ registered his second triple-double of the season with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Wisconsin beat Northwestern 62-46. Meanwhile, Trice and Brad Davison scored 18 points apiece for the Badgers (14-6, 6-3 Big Ten), combining to shoot 7 of 12 from behind the 3-point line.

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“If we continue to use that formula, we’re going to have a lot of games and see a lot of games like this from Ethan,” Trice said.

Still, Northwestern coach Chris Collins said he had no real problems with his defense Saturday. His offense was another story.

The Wildcats (12-8, 3-6) turned in their worst shooting performance of the season, hitting 30 percent from the field and an abysmal 7 of 30 in the second half (23 percent).

Collins noted while Happ scored 13 points, he needed 15 shots from the field to get there. He also said while Davison and Trice were effective from the 3-point line, Happ is such a special player that you have to give up open looks on the perimeter at times in an attempt to stop him from dominating the game.

Vic Law was emblematic of the Wildcats’ struggles. He came into the game as Northwestern’s leading scorer at better than 16 points, but was 2 of 11 from the field and finished with six.

“We did not lose because of our defense,” Collins said. “We lost because they defended us well, and we could not score.”

Wisconsin took control of the game with a 19-2 run that wrapped around the end of the first half and beginning of the second. After Wisconsin ended the first half on a 14-2 spurt, the Wildcats missed their first six from the field to start the second period, and the Badgers pushed their lead to 39-24 on Nate Reuvers’ 3-point play.

The Wisconsin lead didn’t dip below double figures the rest of the game.

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said what impressed him most about Happ was his defense. The 6-foot, 10-inch Happ started guarding 6-4 guard Anthony Gaines, while Reuvers was on Dererk Pardon. But Reuvers was whistled for his second foul halfway through the first half, and Happ switched to the 6-8 Pardon. Both Pardon and Gaines finished with a team-high eight points.

“He was really active, Ethan, in terms of his post defense and positioning, one of the better post densive jobs that he’s done,” Gard said.

THIRD TRIPLE-DOUBLE

Happ now has two of Wisconsin’s three triple-doubles in school history. His first was in a season opening win over Coppin State Nov. 6 as he scored 10 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 12 assists. Josh Gasser had the first Wisconsin triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 78-46 win over Northwestern eight years ago.

TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

Aaron Falzon, who has battled injuries over the past three seasons that limited him to just 35 games over that span, came off the bench Tuesday to score a career-high 21 points in just 20 minutes as the Wildcats beat Indiana 73-66. That included going 6 of 7 behind the 3-point line after hitting just two coming in this season. While he didn’t match that performance, he was a respectable 2 of 5 from the field, both 3-pointers, as he finished with six points.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: The Wildcats, who normally shoot 43 percent from the field, struggled offensively as they missed out on a chance to build on back-to-back conference wins over Indiana and Rutgers.

Wisconsin: After a stretch of four losses in five games, the Badgers are now riding a three-game winning streak.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Maryland on Tuesday.

Wisconsin: Travels to Nebraska on Tuesday.