Wisconsin’s women’s basketball team prepares to face UNC Charlotte on Sunday to get its season officially underway. The Badgers will need to exert effort into relinquishing their standings considering last year’s matchup against the 49ers resulted in a tough loss for the Badgers with a score of 48-63. Charlotte is entering into its seventh year under head coach Cara Consuegra, which is in stark contrast to this only being Jonathan Tsipis’ second year as Wisconsin’s head coach.
Looking towards the future, Charlotte is voted to finish fourth in its league standings based on the Preseason Conference USA Poll. Last season, Charlotte finished with a tie for fourth place but received the fifth seed in the conference tournament. Whereas for Wisconsin on the other hand, they are predicted to sit in the bottom of the ranks this year. The 49ers kicked off their season with an exhibition win against Coker on November 4th. In a similar manner, Wisconsin finished their exhibition match on November 8th with a victory of 107-58 over UW-Platteville, with two players, Marsha Howard and Kendall Shaw, scoring their career-highs.
In terms of Charlotte’s roster, it has gained three freshmen, Mariah Linney, Octavia Wilson, and Lyrissa Deans, while managing to hold on to some senior members as well. One of three seniors on the team, and the one to watch this Sunday, redshirt senior forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers. For the 2017-‘18 season, she has been selected for the preseason All-Conference USA team, after already receiving All-Conference honors for the 2016-17 season for the USA Defensive team. While Nyilah serves as a major defensive presence for the 49ers, starting 29 out of 31 games,Laia Raventòs, a junior guard from Spain, stands as the offensive go-to for Charlotte. Starting 25 out of 30 games, Raventòs posted 13 double figure performances last year, with a season best of 19 points. She was also a member of the team honored on the All-Conference USA team.
In last season’s game against the 49ers, Raventòs put up 16 points against the Badgers, leading the 49ers on the offensive board, making her the player who the Badgers with have to strongly contest this Sunday. As far as the overall performance for the Badgers against Charlotte last year, the Badgers experienced some trouble getting the ball in the basketball as they went 15 for 63 in field goal attempts. During the game, the Badgers came back and cut the 49ers’ lead to a mere eight points twice, but were simply unable to convert in the last minutes of the game.
For this season, the Badgers hope to build off the chemistry they began to establish last year, with a majority of their players returning for this season. However, the loss of a handful of dominant seniors for Charlotte will play in favor for the Badgers. In order for the Badgers to compete with the 49ers they must be able to turn their defense into offense, and get some points on the board.
In the 2016 matchup, Cayla McMorris led the way in scoring with 13 points for Wisconsin, with the next highest contributor for the team scoring just seven. It was a low scoring game for the Badgers, and with them not being get the ball in the basket, it hindered their performance and left players feeling frustrated and frantic.
In all, this Sunday’s matchup will be a test to see how well the Badgers have learned from their experience last year, and how well Charlotte will be able to make up for the losses in the depth of their roster, specifically the loss one of their highest scorer last year, Grace Hunter. Expect the Badgers to come out quick, pushing the ball down the court in the attempt to establish a presence on the offensive end early.