In the state of Wisconsin, the rivalries are strong. Milwaukee has the same-state, same-league rivalry with Green Bay, the UW system rivalry with Wisconsin and the crosstown rivalry with Marquette. The 2008-09 season was an exciting one for two of these rivalries—Wisconsin and Marquette.
Milwaukee split against its major conference rivals, but the loss at Wisconsin was not without its drama. The win at Marquette was equally compelling. This moment covers a bit of the first, but really is about the second.
In the Panthers’ (seemingly) annual trip to the Kohl Center in Madison, they faced a Badger team that was receiving votes in the national polls and had come off some kind of Caribbean tournament championship. The game also had Traci Edwards poised to become Milwaukee’s all-time leading scorer.
Wisconsin was leading 47-31 with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation. UWM then rattled off a 21-4 run to take a 52-51 lead with just over a minute remaining. After a Badger three, Edwards forced overtime with a layup with just 4.8 seconds remaining.
In overtime, Wisconsin hit a three with 7.8 seconds to go to force the second OT. Then, in that second extra period, the Panthers scored four-straight points to tie the game in the last 10 seconds, 69-69. UW converted 1-of-2 at the free throw line and Milwaukee got the rebound. Unfortunately, the Panthers’ luck ended there, as they were unable to get a shot off before the horn.
That would not be the case less than a month later at Marquette.
Milwaukee overcame a 26-13 first half deficit against the Golden Eagles to make it a five-point game late in regulation at 62-57. Jineen Williams drove to the basket for lay-ups on back-to-back UWM possessions to make it just a one-point game in the closing seconds.
After a missed MU free throw on the first half of a one-and-one, Edwards got the rebound to set up the climactic finish. Milwaukee called timeout to draw up one last play with 11 seconds remaining.
The final play did not exactly go off without a hitch. I don’t remember what exactly happened, but I do know that Turquoise McCain was forced to track down the ball when it was knocked loose and was subsequently fouled with 3.6 seconds remaining. On the foul, McCain twisted her knee and left the game.
Milwaukee was in the bonus and had free throws coming up, its own one-and-one situation. This set the stage for Ashley Imperiale to step in to shoot the ensuing free throws. Despite her sophomore status, this was just Imperiale’s third collegiate game. This was also before she played 30-plus minutes a game. The box score shows she played just three minutes, but they were pivotal.
She sunk the first to tie the game. MU called timeout to “ice” her. Then, the Milwaukee-area kid returned to the free throw line in the annual showdown between the two Division I teams in the city of Milwaukee and calmly sank the second.
The Golden Eagles were able to get off a three-point attempt from a reasonable distance, but it was off and the Panthers won!
UPDATE (Feb. 9, 11:45 am): I was directed to video on YouTube of Ashley making the free throws shot from our students at the game. The link is here. WARNING: Turn the sound down. Our students are right by the Marquette band, and we know how pep bands are, so it is really loud.