After Thursday night?s blowout over Penn State, the UW women?s basketball team welcomed winless Northwestern to Madison Sunday, continuing the Wildcats? woes as the Badgers rolled 75-45.
Wisconsin closed out Alumni Weekend in front of a season-high 7,744 fans, who were not disappointed as UW notched their second consecutive conference win and their third of the season. With two wins in a row, and having outscored their opponents 154-97 in those two games, Wisconsin takes some heavy momentum into Wednesday?s game at Indiana, where they have a chance to get their first Big Ten road win.
Northwestern proved their inability to compete in the Big Ten this year, failing to hit a field goal against Wisconsin until the 12:37 mark in the first half. The scoring dry spell put the Wildcats in a hole too deep to claw out of. Wisconsin got off to a quick 18-2 start, with senior Jolene Anderson leading the way.
The opening minutes against NU resembled the early attack UW had against Penn State Thursday, burying the Lady Lions early.
?What I wanted to do is to carry on from what we did against Penn State,? head coach Lisa Stone said. ?[Our defense] got us in transition and we scored easy baskets, shooting 60 percent from the floor. That?s all good stuff, so I wanted to start out strong defensively at first, which I thought we did.?
Entering halftime down 40-13, Northwestern head coach Beth Combs was challenged with giving her team a pep talk that might inspire a miraculous comeback.
?[After halftime] we put pressure on them a little bit more, pressuring them defensively,? Combs said. ?We really had trouble getting the ball in the post, and that?s a tribute to Wisconsin?s defense.?
The post defense affected the entire Northwestern offense, causing 6?5? center Amy Jaeschke trouble on the blocks, shooting 3-for-11 on the game.
?I thought Danielle [Ward] and Lin Zastrow gave Amy Jaeschke all she could handle. We got around her instead of playing from behind,? Stone said. ?She?s too talented to play behind, and she?s a very, very, very good player.?
Combs had little to praise her players for at the half, with top scorer Meshia Reed scoring just five points. Wisconsin?s Anderson outscored the entire Northwestern team in the half, 14-13. The 11 turnovers and 4-for-27 shooting performance only added to the Wildcats? worries.
The second half started where the first half left off ? with a Zastrow jumper giving the Badgers their largest lead of the game at 35 points.
At the 11-minute mark, Northwestern was finally able to stop the deficit from growing, trading basket for basket with Wisconsin, eventually cutting into the 30-point margin later in the half. NU was able to chip away at the lead against the UW bench, with starters taking a seat with five minutes remaining. Turnovers were down for the second straight home game, with five against Penn State and 12 against Northwestern.
?Now that the bar has been set in terms of us keeping turnovers down, our expectations are a bit higher,? Stone said. ?[We had] 21 assists, and I told the players that means this team shares the ball and they like each other; they?re having some fun.?
In the past two games, the Wisconsin defense has prevented teams from scoring their average and allowing easy points on the break. The team, now halfway through the Big Ten season, knew they had to buckle down and play defense.
?It was just a matter of us being determined and having our offense come from our defense,? Anderson said. ?It was all about getting stops, and I think the past few games we?ve really done that.?
Wisconsin travels to Indiana Thursday to take on the Hoosiers, who are now only two games ahead of the Badgers in the Big Ten.