After dropping four of their last five matches to Big Ten opponents, Marisa Moseley’s University of Wisconsin squad (4-13, 1-6 Big Ten) faces the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-7, 3-3) in Madison Jan. 23.
The two last squared off Feb. 7, 2021, with the Blue and White edging out the Badgers 98–74. With an 8-14 mark since 2002 and 5-5 record in their last 10 matches, the Badgers will look to break .500 against their conference rival and steal a victory vs. the Nittany Lions on Sunday afternoon.
Orchestrated by Carolyn Kieger, the mentor of three All-Big Ten talents and a former Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year nominee, the 2020-2021 Penn State squad went 9-15 and even notched a top-25 victory against a formidable Ohio State squad during a shortened season.
Through 16 games this campaign, Penn State manages 72.5 points, shoots 44.5% from the field, snatches 34.8 boards and totals 17.5 tallies off turnovers per contest. With 10 swipes each time out, the Nittany Lions also rank 52nd out of 348 qualified groups in the nation in steals per game.
At the opposite end of the hardwood, UW puts up 58 points per contest off 39.7% from the field and a sub-par 29.6% from outside. The Red and White distribute 11.9 assists, chalk up 11.1 tallies off turnovers and snatch 29.9 rebounds per match — the seventh-worst rebounding total in the NCAA. With only 15 giveaways per battle, the Badgers land in the top-fourth of the pack when protecting the rock.
For Wisconsin, guard Julie Pospíšilová generates a team-leading 14.1 points per contest off 36.1% from the floor. Despite losing her top spot to Alasia Smith for field-goal percentage among guards in the country after Thursday’s bout against Michigan, the Monroe native still boasts 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 swipes off a stout 55.8 split from the floor. Point guard Katie Nelson accounts for 54 of the 203 Badger assists over 17 battles, and freshman Krystyna Ellew averages 7.9 tallies off 85.7% from the charity stripe.
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Junior Makenna Marisa, a 2021 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and Academic All-Big Ten member, averages 21.5 points over 34.9 minutes per contest. The guard from McMurray, Pennsylvania ranks eighth in scoring and 60th in free-throw percentage (83.9%) out of 250 qualified student-athletes in the nation, so Nelson, Pospíšilová and Sydney Hilliard will need to move quickly on the perimeter.
Accountable for 86 rebounds and 18 blocks, forward Ali Brigham racks up 11.5 points off a 57% clip from the field, ranking 20th in the NCAA. Alongside Marisa and Brigham, guard Leilani Kapinus adds 8.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Though the Badgers rank second-to-last in play against Big Ten adversaries, UW could take advantage of a few Penn State deficiencies Sunday afternoon. The Blue and White turn it over 15.9 times per contest and shoot 70.5% from the line, so if Wisconsin can snag a few loose balls and knock down free throws, the Red and White could disrupt the Nittany Lions in Madison this afternoon.