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Saturday, March 02, 2024

Press Conference: Tough games highlight week to come for Badgers

Women’s Hockey

Wisconsin (19-3-2 WCHA, 23-3-2 overall) will head into this weekend’s matchup against rival Minnesota on a high note after completing a sweep of Ohio State (6-13-5, 11-14-5) last Friday and Saturday in Columbus.

The Badgers beat Ohio State 3-0 and 3-2, respectively, in what head coach Mark Johnson called a strong defensive showing.

“I thought our Friday night game down in Columbus was one of our better defensive games that we’ve played all season,” Johnson said. “[Goaltender] Alex [Rigsby] did a nice job when she did get faced and came away with a nice shutout victory and then responded well Saturday, coming back with another good effort. Very happy with the sweep.”

Wisconsin will look to carry the momentum into its series against No. 1 Minnesota (22-1-1, 28-1-1) this weekend. Friday’s game will be played in LaBahn Arena, the usual venue for women’s hockey, while Saturday night’s “Fill the Bowl” game will take place in the Kohl Center.

“I think everybody up in Minnesota and certainly the people in Madison that follow us has this weekend circled on their calendars,” Johnson said. “It should be an exciting couple of games, and certainly Saturday night’s game is going to be special not only for our players but certainly for our fans.”

“Fill the Bowl” night will prove to be an emotional test for the Badgers, as Saturday’s game is also the team’s final regular-season game at home. Johnson said his team will have to manage its nerves on senior night in order to take advantage of playing in front of a larger crowd.

The Badgers were swept by Minnesota Oct. 11 and 12 on the road, but Johnson stressed that his team has progressed since then and will be ready to compete this weekend.

“They don’t give up a lot of opportunities,” Johnson said. “You’re going to have to capitalize on it and you have to play real good disciplined hockey.”

Women’s Basketball

Wisconsin (3-8 Big Ten, 10-13 overall) fell short to Indiana (4-6, 17-6) 76-69 Saturday. The loss gave IU the most wins in a season since 2008-’09.

Head coach Bobbie Kelsey expressed her disappointment about the recent loss to Indiana.

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“They played really well, and we played well the second half, but obviously the game is two halves, 20 minutes each, 40 minutes total,” Kelsey said.

Transfer student Michala Johnson, who came from the University of Connecticut and started all 22 games thus far, leads the badgers with 16.7 points per game.

“She’s naturally someone that people look to, she’s not real real vocal, but she is vocal enough,” Kelsey said. “She’s done a nice job for us as far as being a leader on and off the court.”

Looking ahead, the Badgers are set to take on Minnesota Wednesday at the Kohl Center, along with a trip to Penn State Sunday. Prior to Wednesday’s game will be a “chalk talk” thirty minutes before tip.

Gearing up for Minnesota, Kelsey is prepared to face Rachel Banham, the Big Ten’s top scorer this year.

“You can’t shut someone like that down, she’s going to get her points, but we have done a good job in the past of limiting her touches,” Kelsey said. “They have been struggling a little bit too, but they are on a little win streak here, so everybody’s looking for that win, everybody needs it, we need it.”

In her third year as head coach, Kelsey has gotten used to the pressure of the Big Ten, though she never stops feeling it.

“This year’s been harder for me than any other year,” Kelsey said. “I don’t know why. It just seems harder that we’ve got all these pieces. Now you’ve got to put them together and try to get them playing well at one time.”

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