Badgers look to bounce back from disappointing loss with improved ball security
Senior forward Marsha Howard followed up her 1000th career point against Ohio State with a dominant game at home Wednesday night versus Illinois.Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger
After an underwhelming loss to Maryland, the Wisconsin Badgers (2-8 Big Ten, 11-11 overall) crawl back to their home turf to scrap against the Michigan Wolverines (4-6, 13-9) in their first of two matchups this season.
In their previous game against Maryland, the Badgers were unable to keep pace as the Terrapins slowly pulled away across the last three quarters after a hotly contested first quarter that ended with Wisconsin trailing only by one. Now, with the benefit of a clean slate, Wisconsin must focus on better ball movement and establishing a three-point presence.
In the previous game, the Badgers squandered numerous possessions with errant passes that flew out of bounds or into the hands of defenders.
Senior forward Marsha Howard was especially guilty of this as she coughed up the ball eight times against the Terrapins on drives into an overloaded interior in overly valiant efforts that usually ended in misses or turnovers. The Badgers will have to combat this by improving their ball movement on the exterior, which will open up easier passing lanes for the entire offense.
Howard’s experience against the Maryland defense also showed the Badgers cannot depend completely on scoring in the paint. As the season has progressed, opponents have learned of Wisconsin’s over-reliance on inside scoring and have jammed the interior and dared the Badgers to shoot from the perimeter. In order to break out of this frustrating defense, senior Kelly Karlis, junior Suzanne Gilreath and sophomore Alex Luehring must stretch the opposing defense early and onward with drives and outside shots.
On the other side of the court are the Michigan Wolverines, whose mediocre record hides a talented team with great potential masked by a tough schedule. The Wolverines have played eight games against ranked teams, going 3-5 in those contests including wins against then-No. 13 Minnesota and No. 12 Iowa. The scheduling gods have also hurt them with most of their top-tier matchups on the road.
Difficulty aside, the big threat from Michigan comes not from their starters but from freshman star bench player Naz Hillmon, who leads the team in rebounds per game and field goal percentage while also coming at a close second in total points to senior Hallie Thorne. Hillmon’s success against second units has kept her teammates fresh and forced opponents to maintain a high competitive level.
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