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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, December 09, 2023

Badgers need McMorris to step up in big moments

UW looks to break losing streak against Northwestern

The Badgers (0-8 Big Ten, 5-16 overall) have sputtered out to an eight-game losing streak as the young Wisconsin team has been thrashed in Big Ten play.

The Badgers have been victims of huge blowouts at the hands of some of the top scorers in the Big Ten. UW has had the pleasure of guarding six of the top 10 in scoring so far.

Junior guard Cayla McMorris currently holds the mantle as the team’s leading scorer, but she has at times been timid and unaggressive in her approach to scoring.

McMorris was able to conjure up just four points––all from the free throw line after going 0-10 from the field––while Minnesota guard Carlie Wagner (tied for third in PPG in the Big Ten) dropped 24 points on the Badgers. Then, McMorris was able to score eight points against Ohio State, with only three points in the second half––a half in which the Badgers entered down just one––as Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell (first in the Big Ten in PPG) dropped another 24 points to help the Buckeyes escape with a nine-point win.

Last week, Michigan State guard Tori Jankoska (second in PPG in the Big Ten) was hobbled by a leg injury, but still scored 13 points and grabbed 11 boards. McMorris had yet another 4-point outing.

“She’s got to hunt her shot,” said head coach Jonathan Tsipis following that game. “She got a shot at the beginning of the second half, in rhythm, and I’ll be honest, she didn't look like she had hunted it.”

However, last game looked like it would be different. Against Indiana, McMorris came out scorching hot with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Yet, she finished with the same amount of points when the game ended, along with six more missed shots for a 6-of-13 performance.

IU guard Tyra Buss (sixth in PPG in the Big Ten) finished with 19 points, including a clutch buzzer beater to end the third quarter as the Badgers had their lead down to four––the epitome of a leading scorer taking a challenge head on.

“You can’t defer,” said Tsipis. “I think when we look at the film we’ll see that.”

Games like Indiana and Ohio State are situations when an inexperienced Badger squad needed their leading scorer to give them that extra edge––especially when young players can get caught up in comeback situations when shots don’t fall.

The blame is not solely on McMorris’ shoulders, though. She bested Michigan guard Katelynn Flaherty (11 points over eight) and Penn State guard Teniya Page (13 points over 11), who are tied for third and tied for eighth in PPG in the Big Ten, respectively.

She even put up a career-high 31 points earlier this season, and the team still lost.

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The root of the losing streak is a culmination of woes both offensively and defensively.

But if the Badgers want to break the chains of a losing streak that has shackled a young team, McMorris will need to lead the prison break when opportunities in close games, like against Indiana and Ohio State, arise.

The Badgers will play their seventh, Big Ten top-10 scorer Wednesday night, Nia Coffey of Northwestern, before their rematch with Mitchell and her Ohio State squad, but this time in front of the Kohl Center crowd Saturday.

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