Sports

UW hopes returning starters, depth from transfers leads to strong season opener against Winthrop

Wisconsin opens the regular season Thursday night against the Winthrop Eagles. 

Image By: Jon Yoon

Wisconsin came out of the gates strong already this year, dominating UW-Oshkosh 79-51 in an exhibition game last weekend, and it hopes to do the same to Winthrop in the official home opener Thursday night.

With four returning starters, transfer players and good recruits coming into the rotation, this season is looking bright for the Badgers. Senior forward Marsha Howard asserted her position as a prominent leader for this new UW team as she led the way in scoring during the exhibition match with 16 points.

Redshirt senior guard Kelly Karlis made her debut for Wisconsin after transferring from Ohio State and followed close behind Howard’s scoring with 11 points. Karlis followed close behind Howard with 11 points. Fellow transfer Alex Luehring also added 11 points.

One of Wisconsin’s biggest advantages this season is its scoring depth. This advantage should serve the Badgers well, especially considering Wisconsin will host six 20-plus win teams in Big Ten play this year.

The Winthrop Eagles experienced a disappointing 2017-'18 season, finishing 3-27 overall. Winthrop only won two of its conference games and lost a majority by wide margins. In terms of the 2018-'19 season, the Eagles have added six freshmen to the roster in hopes of a turn-around year.

Junior guard Marissa Cantrell proved beneficial to Winthrop’s offense last year, recording a season high 16 points in its victory over Wesleyan. Junior guard Miquela Santoro also proved to be a regular on the scoreboard for the Eagles.

Defensively, Winthrop has some big bodies to offer up against its opponents. Senior forward Kayla Atkins was a strong presence in the paint for the Eagles last season, finishing the year with a total of 135 rebounds.

Looking at this matchup, the Badgers should be well equipped to face what Winthrop has to offer. One area Wisconsin will need to stay on top of is rebounding. In the exhibition against UW-Oshkosh, the Badgers dominated the boards, but they did possess an obvious size advantage. With Winthrop, however, the Eagles bring significant size and strength in the post area, so junior forwards Abby Laszewski and Courtney Fredrickson will be expected to execute solid defense and positioning down low.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Thursday.

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