Verona came into last week having won three straight games against Big Eight Conference opponents, but hit a pair of stumbling blocks at home.
The Wildcats couldn’t keep up with Sun Prairie in a 61-40 loss Thursday, Feb. 6, and hung tough but fell to Madison Memorial 61-52 two days later.
Madison Memorial 61, Verona 52
Megan Murphy poured in a game-high 23 points for the Wildcats (8-10, 7-8 Big Eight), who had just five players score in the game.
Rayna Briggs added 12 points and Katie Pederson chipped in eight. Paige Lambe and Abbi Rupnow had five and four points, respectively.
Verona trailed 33-30 at halftime against the Spartans, who came into the game ranked third in the Division 1 Associated Press state poll. Penn State recruit Leilani Kapinus paced Memorial with 17 points.
Sun Prairie 61, Verona 40
An active 2-3 zone helped the Wildcats stay close in the early stages of the game, but the Cardinals’ height ultimately won out on both ends of the court.
Pederson scored Verona’s first five points, but Sun Prairie used dribble penetration and quick passes to score 14 straight points to go up 18-5.
The Wildcats struggled with turnovers during the stretch and went nine minutes without scoring. Murphy hit a baseline floater with 7:08 left in the first half to end the drought.
“We couldn’t make a basket,” Verona coach Angie Murphy said. “We hung around and made some good adjustments defensively, but they’re a bad matchup for us with their height. They also face-guarded Rayna and Megan.”
Verona scored the final four points of the half to cut its deficit to 22-11 at the break.
The Wildcats cut it to single digits five times in the second half, but each time the Cardinals answered. Megan Murphy drilled back-to-back 3-pointers from the right wing to cut it to 36-27 with 7:33 left, but Sun Prairie used a 19-7 run over the next four minutes to push its lead over 20.
“We have to get back in transition better against a team like this,” Angie Murphy said. “We also didn’t get to the shooters when we needed to and couldn’t keep 34 (Jazzanay Seymore) off the glass.”
The Wildcats entered the bonus with 11:36 left, but shot just five free throws down the stretch.
Murphy finished with a team-high 13 points and Pederson added seven points. Briggs (seven) and Rachel Parman (six) scored all of their points in the second half.
Sun Prairie’s Marie Outlay poured in a game-high 16 points. Seymore chipped in 13 points, and Antionique Auston and Ashley Rae each scored 10 of their 12 points in the second half.