Following a disappointing defeat at the hands of the winless Chicago State Cougars, the UW-Madison Badgers (1-3) travel to Milwaukee to face the UW-Milwaukee Panthers (2-3) on Wednesday, Nov. 24.
The two last met in November of 2019, with Madison’s team dominating in a 71-40 blowout. UW-Madison holds a 4-1 record when they square up versus UW-Milwaukee on the road.
Kyle Rechlicz, the 2015-2016 Horizon League Coach of the Year and leader of a 20-8 conference championship squad a season ago, leads UW-Milwaukee again. The team looks to extend their two-game winning streak against a struggling Badger group desperate for a win.
During the 2020-2021 campaign, the Panthers yielded one of the nation’s top defenses, holding opponents to 55.7 points per bout and 35.2% from the field. The black and gold also set an NCAA basketball record at the charity stripe, boasting an 83.8% mark from the foul line.
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With only two departures and three newcomers, the Panthers dropped three straight games, including one battle versus #16 Florida State, to begin the season. But, over the last two contests, Rechlicz’s group won by an average 11.5-point disparity against Wright State and Northern Kentucky.
Without Brandi Bisping, an All-Horizon League Second Team member and last year’s NCAA Division I leader in free-throw percentage at 93.5%, one would expect the Panther’s foul line efficiency to decrease dramatically. Surprisingly, the black and gold have improved from the charity stripe by more than five percentage points.
UW-Milwaukee puts up 58.8 points, snatches 8.2 steals, and grabs 34.4 rebounds each time out on the hardwood. With decreased efficiency from downtown and a much more stagnant offense compared to last season, the Panthers will look to draw early fouls and rely on free throw marksmanship on Wednesday night.
For Coach Moseley’s group, Sydney Hilliard ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 18.5 points per game off 50% from the floor. With 38 more tallies than any other Badger, her 23 rebounds and nine swipes rank first among her teammates as well. Junior forward Julie Pospíšilová averages 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists through two games, and point guard Katie Nelson accounts for 21 of 49 Badger assists thus far.
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Panther names to watch
Redshirt sophomore Megan Walstad, a 2020-2021 First Team All-Horizon League honoree, leads the Panthers with 14.2 tallies per game off a 45.8% clip from the field. The 6’2’’ forward is Rechlicz’s top shooting threat, executing on 41.7% of her looks from downtown and 12/12 attempts from the foul line.
Walstad gets it done on the defensive end as well, grabbing 7.8 boards per battle and denying seven shots on the year. If the Badgers elect to run a 2-3 zone, UW-Madison will need to pay extra attention to Walstad on the block and perimeter.
Graduate student Sydney Staver can also light it up from deep. During the 2020-2021 campaign, the 5’11’’ guard started in 20 games for the Panthers, leading the group with 36 three-pointers at a 40% mark. Through five games, the Mineral Point native averages 11.8 points per game and leads the team with 8 steals over 30 minutes per match.
For the Badgers to overcome their three-game skid, they will need to cover these two like a blanket. Anticipate high intensity on the defensive end and increased energy from the bench.