Promotion draws big crowd, energy

first_imgThe University of Wisconsin has one of the most spirited fan bases in the country, routinely packing the Kohl Center for Badger games — except when those games involve women’s basketball.Sunday afternoon was no normal day, as 15,269 fans — the fifth-largest crowd in school history — filled the gym to watch the Badgers defeat their rival University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.UW head coach Lisa Stone donated $0.25 per ticket sold to Gilda’s Club Madison, a local support center for those touched by cancer, as part of her “Raise the Roof” charity event — totaling more than $4,285.50. The American Transmission Company matched that donation and Bucky’s Locker Room added $5 per “Raise the Roof” shirt sold, as the grand total surpassed the $10,000 mark. Stone and a representative from each organization presented their checks as part of the pre-game ceremonies.”[Our fans] made a lot of noise,” Stone said after the game. “It felt good to be a part of this campaign and to feel good about what my family and I did.”It was great to have a crowd of that size for such a “tremendous cause,” Stone added, especially considering some in attendance had never seen the team play.”I’m hoping this will encourage them to come back because this is a fun team to watch,” she said.Coming into the game, Stone said she was curious as to how her team would react to the thrilling atmosphere. And as it turns out, it would have been difficult for them to have reacted any better, as they put together what Stone called the “most complete” game she’s ever seen in her four-year tenure at UW.Despite Minnesota players Ashley Ellis-Milan and Emily Fox maintaining the crowd was not a factor, the Gophers came out flat and the Badgers played energized on both ends of the court for a full 40 minutes.”It’s always good to win,” freshman forward Mariah Dunham said. “But the sixth man on the floor [was] the crowd. We went to Minnesota and it was the same crowd. But when you come here and they’re cheering for you, it just gets you going, it gets your teammates going. It was just electric in there. It was just a fun place to be.”Junior guard Janese Banks did not seem phased by the energy at all.”It’s very easy to get caught up in the atmosphere,” Banks noted. “I think, if [there was anything to worry about], it would be how the new players, who have never played in this atmosphere, would react. But I thought they handled it well. This is what they came here for.”Certainly Stone was excited about the victory in terms of its potential postseason implications, but Sunday’s festivities were about more than winning, losing, and the Big Ten standings.”I remember a game [when I played] where there were 20 people in the gym, and that included both teams,” she said. “So when you get to this level, [you’re playing] for not just women’s basketball or the Wisconsin Badgers, but for women’s athletics.”last_img

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