Looking to earn its first home win of the season, the UW women’s basketball team (2-2) returns to the Kohl Center to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (3-1) Sunday.
“It’s an opportunity for us to come back to the Kohl Center and demonstrate to our fans that we’d like to start a home-game winning streak,” head coach Lisa Stone said. “We’re 0-2 right now [at home] and that hurts. We want our fans to understand that we’re going to play hard and do all we can to win.”
Iowa State enters the game riding a two-game winning streak that includes a 104-94 victory over in-state rival Iowa in double overtime. Iowa State’s only loss of the season came against No. 24 ranked Virginia Tech, leaving the Cyclones undefeated against unranked opponents.
The unranked Badgers will look to end the Cyclones’ streak by capitalizing on their height advantage, as 6-foot-7 center Lello Gebisa, 6-foot-5 center Emily Ashbaugh will face an Iowa State defense that does not feature a player listed over 6-foot-3.
“They’re going to play that zone and try to pack it in,” Stone said. “We obviously have to utilize our height, we’ve got to utilize our strength, and we have to utilize the fact that we’re at home.”
In the double-overtime thriller against Iowa, the Cyclones displayed their balanced attack as five players scored in double figures. The Iowa State attack will provide a unique challenge for Wisconsin defenders, as five Cyclones average double figures in scoring and a sixth, forward Megan Ronhovde, falls just short at 9.8 points per game.
“We have to attack with our own balance,” Stone said. “We have to play more as a team. We had a little setback with Western Illinois. Our defense was not as I had wanted, and we have addressed some of those issues. Hopefully, against Iowa State we can shut down their scorers and get a little more balance ourselves.”
Led by freshman guard Lyndsey Medders, who averages 17 points per game, the Cylcones have exploded offensively this season. After lighting it up for 104 points against Iowa, 11 points shy of the school record that was set in 1976, the Cylcones are averaging 76.5 points this season, outscoring the Badgers by 18.3 points per game.
However, the Cyclones have not been as prolific defensively, allowing an average of 13.8 points more than the Badgers this season. Wisconsin will look to attack Iowa State’s zone defense, which Stone has seen in each of the past three seasons.
“I’ve known them since I was at Drake; I played them for three straight years,” Stone said. “Bill Finley’s defense is a zone and they will make adjustments accordingly to take things away that we want to do offensively. I also would expect full court pressure from them.”
Wisconsin also has the edge in experience, as Iowa State has just one senior on their roster. The Cyclone’s lone senior, guard Erica Junod, missed the first three games of the season but made an immediate impact with a 20-point performance against Iowa in her only action of the year.
“Leadership is a quality that every coach wants in players and in teams and if they only have one senior, that may be a great leader for them,” Stone said. “They’ve got a coach that is a veteran, and they’re going to jump on somebody’s back.”
Looking to hand the Cylones their first loss against an unranked opponent this season, Stone and the Badgers will use a balanced offensive scheme, attacking in the post and from the perimeter.
“I fully expect our perimeter players to step up and make shots and I expect our post players to be a presence inside,” Stone said. “The bottom line is we have to play defense and we have to rebound.”