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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, March 03, 2024
Women's Basketball

Wisconsin played a tough game to start the season Tuesday, but ultimately won thanks to the performance of a few freshmen.

Badgers dispatch UW-Stout in exhibition contest

The Badgers hosted their second and final exhibition game Tuesday night, with the in-state UW-Stout Blue Devils in town, part of an annual matchup between the Badgers and one of the UW schools.

The game unfolded much like Wisconsin’s previous exhibition, as the Badgers took a hefty 54-26 lead into halftime. But, instead of letting the Blue Devils back in the game like Winona State last Sunday, the Badgers turned up their play, overpowering their way to a 103-45 win in the Kohl Center.

Redshirt senior forward Avyanna Young led her team in the first half, establishing herself in the post and blitzing the UW-Stout defense in transition for 17 points and seven rebounds.

“They (the coaches) push us in practice, [as] posts we have to run the floor, because if we don't get open we’re getting our teammates open,” said Young.

The forward ended her night with a solid 19 points and eight boards, resting for much of the second half.

With the Badgers grabbing rebounds––an astute 60 boards in the game––those transition opportunities were plentiful, and the team as a whole took advantage of easy points by running the lanes. Two catalysts for starting the break were redshirt sophomore guard Roichelle Marble and freshman guard Kendra Van Leeuwen, tallying nine and six assists respectively.

“I thought Avy running the floor got [our] momentum going, and Kendra finding her early,” said head coach Jonathan Tsipis. “That’s when that opens up perimeter jump shots.”

Freshman guard Suzanne Gilreath inherited a hot hand by taking advantage of those open looks created by early transition play, pouring in 28 points for the Cardinal and White. The guard came out with five points on two-for-four shooting and one three in the first half. But she turned it around in the next half. The guard came out blazing, knocking down four three-point field goals in the third quarter alone, and scorching the Blue Devils with an eight-for-ten performance behind the arc.

“Especially when we run and get people open and cut, that's when [the floor] opens up,” Gilreath said.

Wisconsin will look to continue its success from three point range this season, as the Badgers racked up 11 treys on 22 attempts, and had four different players contribute to that total.

The defensive side for the Badgers was a fortress, seeming to collapse on every Blue Devil player that ventured into the paint––resulting in a paltry 18% FG percentage on 13-71 shooting. As a result of heady rotations and keen defensive awareness, the Badgers also sent back Stout shots at will, along with routinely picking their pockets, leading to 19 blocks and 11 steals.

“In practice yesterday I would say we spent 85% of time, maybe it was more, being better defensively,” said Tsipis. “I think we did make strides tonight.”

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With tough matchups against ranked Ohio State, Maryland, and Indiana on their docket, the Badgers are already applying the results of the Winona State meltdown to improve defensively for when games will actually count.

“We’ll continue to build,” said Tsipis. “We’re excited.”

The Badgers now turn to their regular season opener Friday at Charlotte, the dawn of a new era for women’s basketball under the helm of Coach Tsipis.

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