GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After bringing home perhaps his biggest win since taking over at Wisconsin-Green Bay, coach Tod Kowalczyk settled in for his postgame news conference with a wry smile.
"First thing's first," he said. "Does that mean we're better than Duke?"
Well, maybe not -- but at least for a night, the Phoenix can make the case that they're Wisconsin state champions.
Bryquis Perine scored 22 points, and Troy Cotton hit a key 3-pointer to help Wisconsin-Green Bay beat No. 20 Wisconsin 88-84 in overtime on Wednesday night.
It was a surprising setback for the Badgers, who had just jumped into the rankings with a victory over the Blue Devils last week and hadn't lost in 15 previous meetings with the in-state rival Phoenix.
"It's a basketball game," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "You play it, try to learn from it."
Rahmon Fletcher added 18 points for the Phoenix (9-2), who held off second-half surges by the Badgers and took control in overtime. But Fletcher hurt his knee near the end of regulation and wasn't able to play the rest of the way.
"I was upset I couldn't play, but I wasn't worried we were going to lose," Fletcher said.
Trevon Hughes scored a career-high 27 points for the Badgers (6-2) but fouled out in overtime.
Wisconsin-Green Bay students swarmed the middle of the court to celebrate -- but left their seats a little too early, as referees were putting a second back on the clock. After returning to their seats in surprisingly orderly fashion, students retook the court to celebrate after the final horn.
It was even bigger for Green Bay players.
"A lot of our guys think they should be playing for [Wisconsin], and they want to prove them wrong," Kowalczyk said.
But Kowalczyk said that something-to-prove mentality has backfired on his players in past meetings with Wisconsin, and saluted his team's improved maturity this time around.
"This is the best group of leaders I've been around," Kowalczyk said.
The Badgers were the ones lacking poise Wednesday, committing 18 turnovers.
"We were pushing, trying to make something happen, and some decisions got a little scattered," Ryan said.
Green Bay used outside shooting to fend off Wisconsin runs, going 4 for 8 from 3-point range in the second half.
"They made some tough 2s early, but it was the 3s that really hurt us," Ryan said.
It was a shaky start to the in-state rivalry portion of the Badgers' schedule. Wisconsin faces fellow in-state heavyweight Marquette at home on Saturday and plays Wisconsin-Milwaukee later this month.
Green Bay's Randy Berry opened overtime with an inside score and a pair of free throws, giving the Phoenix a 79-75 lead. Wisconsin's Jason Bohannon answered with two free throws, but Cotton hit a 3-pointer to put the Phoenix up 82-77 with 2:32 left.
A loose-ball foul put Jon Leuer on the line with 1:54 left, but he only hit one of two free-throw attempts and Green Bay led by four with 1:54 left.
Hughes missed inside with 43 seconds left, then fouled out, sending Berry to the line with 40.1 seconds to go. Berry hit 1 of 2, giving Green Bay a five-point lead.
Leuer was fouled and hit both free throws, cutting the lead to 3, but Seth Evans answered with two free throws of his own. Wisconsin's Tim Jarmusz then watched as his pass sailed out of bounds with 22.1 seconds left.
Kowalczyk said the win was another sign of progress for a team that has been having some success in Horizon League play in recent years, including a home win over perennial league power Butler last season.
"I thought this was the next step for our program," Kowalczyk said.