Just ten days ago, the University of Wisconsin Women’s basketball team (12-14, 3-11 Big Ten) left Champaign, Illinois with a double-digit loss to the last place team in the Big Ten.
Senior Alex Wittinger and the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-16, 2-13) recorded just their second win on the conference slate versus the Badgers.
After the quick turnaround for both of these teams, the Badgers should look heavily for more bench scoring compared to the mere nine points they scrounged against the Illini in their last matchup.
In their last two contests, bench efforts from Abby Laszewski and Suzanne Gilreath have kept the Badgers competitive and provided much-needed depth. Continuing this trend will be crucial for Wisconsin to prevail Wednesday.
The return of Imani Lewis will also help maintain this recent high level of play.
Lewis missed the previous game against Ohio State due to a death in her family, but Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis assured fans that Lewis would be back for the Illinois game.
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“She’s on her way back, [she’ll] be at practice with us and should be all set for Wednesday,” Tsipis said in a press conference Monday afternoon.
Lewis, a freshman, has remained consistent throughout the year, scoring alongside senior Marsha Howard. Her play against the Illini just over a week ago was special despite her foul trouble.
Lewis totaled 16 points and seven rebounds during just 22 minutes of play. The Badgers will look to keep her involved as she maneuvers into the sweet spots in the Illini’s defense.
Lewis’ success and consistent production off the bench are crucial for this contest, but limiting Wittinger on defense will be Wisconsin’s primary focus.
Wittinger scored 24 points and snatched 12 rebounds in the Badgers’ last meeting with Illinois — continuing her dominance against Wisconsin.
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Guard Brandi Beasley also turned in a stellar performance, dominating the Badgers with 16 points and nine assists.
If the Badgers can limit at least half of this Illini duo, they will set themselves up for their thirteenth win — a number they haven’t reached since 2011.
The Badgers have steadily improved in taking care of the basketball. And with the Illini’s forgiving defense, Wisconsin should have a low number of turnovers and limit Illinois fast break points.
“It’s a lot easier to play transition defense when you don’t turn it over,” Tsipis said.
The Badgers take on Illinois Wednesday night in the Kohl Center. Admission for UW students is free, and students will receive free chicken wings while supplies last.
The game can be seen on BTN plus or you can listen on 100.9 FM, Badger Radio Network.