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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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UW turns up intensity in second half

After playing a mediocre first half fraught with turnovers and poor shooting, the UW women’s basketball team put together a near-flawless final 20 minutes of play, handily defeating the Eastern Illinois Panthers by a score of 78-52.

Two of the key reasons for Badgerball’s success in the second half can be attributed to strong interior play and tenacity on defense.

Wisconsin head coach Jane Albright looked less than pleased heading into the half, but she was pleased with the way her team played to its strengths in the second half.

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“I think our basketball team did a good job in the second half of playing a very intense game. We did the things that they said they wanted to work on; we dominated the boards … Emily [Ashbaugh] was the biggest aspect of that,” Albright said following the game. “I thought we pounded the ball inside like we wanted to, and we were able to get to the free-throw line a record time for the year … and most of those foul shots were taken by our post, which is definitely what we were trying to do.”

To say that the Badgers dominated the boards in this matchup would be an understatement. When the final buzzer had sounded, the Badgers had more than doubled Eastern Illinois’s rebounding total, winning the battle of the boards 50-24.

Junior centers Lello Gebisa and Emily Ashbaugh, 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-5, respectively, accounted for 20 of UW’s total rebounds and created matchup problems for the clearly undersized Panthers all night.

“They had more offensive rebounds (25) than we had total rebounds combined. Granted, we knew that we were going to give up some rebounds because of the size disadvantage, but you would’ve liked to make it a little bit better than that,” said Eastern Illinois head coach Linda Wunder. “You try to simulate in practice what the opponent is going to do, but how do you simulate 6’7″, 6’5″ and 6’3″? I can’t even find guys on campus that big that can help us.”

Gebisa, Ashbaugh and company not only dominated the glass in the second half, but also turned up their defensive pressure, holding the Panthers to just 22 points in the second half.

After forcing just eight turnovers and coming up with a meager three steals in the first half of the game, the Badgers ended up forcing the Panthers to cough up the ball 21 times and tacked on 10 more steals, many of which led to uncontested layups at the other end of the court.

Following the game, Albright was quick to recognize her team’s stellar defensive effort in the second half and attributed much of UW’s success to their increase in intensity.

“I thought that our defensive effort in the first half was extremely poor, and we really talked about that and challenged them. They proved that when they are challenged to play defense that they can really pick up their intensity,” said Albright. “We were able to force 21 turnovers, and the thing that I’m the most happy about is that we forced them to shoot 34 percent.”

One of the leaders in this defensive surge was sophomore reserve guard Shawna Nichols. Nichols forced the Panthers’ point guards into a multitude of poor passes, came up with a pair of steals, and took a charge on an Eastern Illinois fast break.

According to Nichols, she is at about 90 percent capability right now because of chronic back pains. Even without being completely healthy, however, she was able to clamp down on the Eastern Illinois ball handlers and help guide the Badgers to victory.

“Shawna really gave us a lift in the second half,” said Albright.

Badgerball will be relying heavily on their strong interior play and defense throughout the season. If they can match last night’s performance in these categories, the Badgers will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten this season.

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