Badgers host Gophers as both teams look to halt conference losing streaks
Senior forward Marsha Howard had eight turnovers in Wisconsin's last game and will need to improve her decision-making with the ball as the Badgers take on Michigan.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger
After their third straight loss, the Wisconsin Badgers (1-4 Big Ten, 10-4 overall) look to regroup against a familiar opponent whose season is also in free-fall: the Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-4, 12-4). This will be the second showdown between these two border rivals as they met earlier this season in an ugly 56-74 defeat for Wisconsin.
In their previous game against the Indiana Hoosiers, the Badgers valiant and effort to erase a 26 point deficit fell short as they snapped their four home game winning streak in a bitter 68-75 defeat.
In order to evade defeat this time, Wisconsin should focus on a starting strong and utilizing senior forward Marsha Howard. The need to start stronger showed after the Badgers gave up 37 points to the Hoosiers in the first quarter. Wisconsin was able to buckle down and outscore the Hoosiers in each of the last three quarters, but it proved to be too little, too late.
As for Howard, the team would be wise to get her in a rhythm as her strong play has elevated the rest of the team this season. Despite a shaky Big Ten start in which she only managed to score in double figures once in the conference season’s first four games, she rebounded with a double-double against Indiana, and it was in her absence that Wisconsin lapsed defensively in that game.
The Badgers aren’t the only one here hoping that this matchup will be a “get-well” game. On the other side of the court are the Minnesota Gophers, who — despite an impressive 12-0 start — have dropped four straight as they stumble into the Kohl Center for a rematch.
Their losses include a matchup against Illinois where they blew a 17-point lead, and three other games with, coincidentally, an 17-point average margin of defeat. During this skid, the Gophers have been been gouged from the three-point line on both ends of the court and have also struggled with turnovers. The Gophers’ lack of perimeter shooting has allowed teams to play a tough zone defense that Minnesota has been unable to shoot its way out of.
Overall, both teams have struggled to find a consistent groove and adjust to the heightened rigors of conference play. The up-and-coming Badgers enter the game looking to advance their rebuild, while the seasoned Gophers look to halt their skid. Something’s got to give.
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