Finally, the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team returns home. After spending the latter part of Thanksgiving week out in Washington, D.C. as participants in the Paradise Jam tournament, and grinding out a win on the road at the University of Pittsburgh in the annual Big 10-ACC Challenge Wednesday night, the Badgers (4-3) will play host to the La Salle University Explorers (4-3) at the Kohl Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Daily improvement has been a key focus for UW as it heads into December and looks to build off of every game and every practice. So far, the results have shown. After consecutive losses to Syracuse University and George Washington in the Paradise Jam, the Badgers were able to pull out a 73-71 overtime thriller victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores to finish the tournament with a 1-2 record. Led by a career-high 24 points from senior forward Marsha Howard, the Badgers shot a season-high 53.6 percent from the field and also marked a team season-high 20 assists.
Against Pitt, UW was able to thwart a late fourth quarter comeback by the Panthers as a Courtney Fredrickson 3-point field goal stopped an 11-0 Pittsburgh run and put the Badgers ahead for good. Wisconsin was led again by Howard, who amassed a monstrous double-double of 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. While the Badgers may have not shot the ball as well from the field as they wanted to (36.8 percent), the Badgers shot a season-high 85.7 percent from the line.
Playing in close games has been a common theme for UW in the early season, as four out of its last five games have been determined by three points or less. Fortunately, Wisconsin has great concentration and execution down the stretch when it needs to on offense and has been able to get stops on the defensive end.
UW will need to build off its momentum as it plays host to the Explorers, who started off their season slow but have been riding a three-game winning streak as they head to the Kohl Center. La Salle started its season at a dismal 1-3, but at the Christmas City Classic, the Explorers were able to sweep the competition, garnering wins against the likes of New Hampshire, Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Senior swingman Amy Griffin, has proven to be a leader for the La Salle squad this year. Averaging a team-best 16.1 points per game, she will certainly be a matchup worth taking note of for Wisconsin defenders. Other notable contributors for the Explorers include redshirt freshman guard Shaquana Edwards, who is coming off a career-high 22 points against Penn, and 5’ 11” guard Adreana Miller, who is the team’s second leading scorer (11.7 ppg).
Overall, La Salle is fairly capable offensive team, averaging around 60 points per game and shooting a respectable 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from the 3-point line. Badger defenders must be ready at all times to limit the amount of penetration from the La Salle guards and be able to close out on the perimeter against an above average 3-point shooting team.