After a tough loss against Marquette on Dec. 4 by a score of 88-65 which ending their three game winning streak, the Badgers (5-4) look to bounce back at home against the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
An area which has caused substantial problems for UW in terms of its ability to close out games is its tendency to get out-rebounded. As evident in the Marquette game, along with a handful of other matchups, UW tends to lose games where they are outrebounded.
In addition to rebounding, the Badgers must also be cognizant of taking care of the basketball, especially after reaching a season high in turnovers against Marquette, which allowed the Golden Eagles to score 32 points off turnovers alone.
UTRGV may pose a similar challenge for Wisconsin. Having started its season off with the best start in program history under head coach Larry Tidwell (8-2), the team is only looking to continue in its success. Junior Quynne Huggins posted a career high 17 points in its win over UMass, and though she is playing in her first season with the team, she has already become a major contributor to team. Another offensive presence who followed behind Huggins with 11 points was redshirt freshman Amara Graham, who missed most of her freshman year in the 2016-17 season due to injuries, but has gotten on to a strong start this time around. In UTRGV’s latest game against UTSA, another valuable player emerged from that matchup in sophomore Megan Johnson. Johnson finished the game leading the team on the offensive end with 31 points in a win. Johnson also led the team last season in rebounding, making her a target that UW will have to contest with on the boards.
With UTRGV having a bunch of recent breakout players, UW will have to focus on containing them and making UTRGV’s role players play a more significant role. However, what may play in favor for the Badgers is that the two losses UTRGV has experienced have come from their away games.
Freshman guard Niya Beverley, who ended the other night with a total of 14 points for the Badgers, must continue to make significant impacts throughout the remainder of the season in order to support senior guard Cayla McMorris and junior forward Marsh Howard, the prominent leaders for UW. Sophomore forward Abby Laszeski has also surfaced as a strong force down low for the Badgers, finishing with 12 points against Marquette. Laszeski’s skills will be tested against UTRGV, as she will most likely have to compete against Johnson on the boards.
Look for Wisconsin to focus on minimizing turnovers, attempting to create a stronger presence down low, as well as matching up against offensive leaders such as Huggins and Johnson.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in the Kohl Center.