Following Thursday’s 34-point debacle against Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (5-16, 2-9 Big Ten) tips off against the Fighting Illini (6-11, 1-5 Big Ten) for the second time this season in Madison on Feb. 6.
The two last met Jan. 9, where the Illini outscored the Badgers 34-15 in the second half and ended the contest with a 21-point advantage. Fresh off a three-game skid, University of Wisconsin aims to generate early offense and add another Big Ten victory to its 2021-22 campaign Sunday afternoon.
Led by fifth-year head coach Nancy Fahey, a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the Illini average 65.5 points and shoot 40.2% from the field with 12.2 assists per outing. They rank 271st out of 348 qualified programs in the NCAA with 18 turnovers per game, so if Wisconsin can jump passing lanes and grab loose balls, the Badgers could secure a few fast break buckets this weekend.
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UW accounts for 57.3 points per outing off 39% from the field and only 29.8% from outside — a definite decrease in both scoring margin and shooting splits from their clash with Illinois in January. The Badgers force 7.2 steals, muster 10.9 points off turnovers and grab just 30 rebounds, which is the sixth worst rebounding average in the country. If Moseley’s group wishes to compete on Sunday, Stapleton, Schramek and Douglass will need to deter second chance opportunities off Illini misfires.
With UW star Sydney Hilliard taking a temporary leave of absence to focus on a personal matter, Badgers fans should anticipate a strong performance from junior Julie Pospíšilová. The versatile guard averages 14.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per matchup.
With 793 total minutes logged this season — the most of any student athlete in Women’s Division I basketball — point guard Katie Nelson leads Wisconsin with 68 assists and 37.7% efficiency from 3-point range. Nelson’s productivity is a testament to the trust between her and Moseley. The pair worked together at Boston University before transitioning over to UW.
Illini names to monitor
Aaliyah Nye, a 5-foot-11-inch sophomore from East Lansing, Michigan, punched in seven field goals for 21 points and snared seven boards in 34 total minutes on the court against UW earlier this season. Kendall Bostic, who lands at fifth in the nation with nearly 12 rebounds a game, corralled 14 misses off the glass in the last matchup.
Jada Peebles executed on six looks from the field and two long-range makes, so Nelson and Pospíšilová should look to apply pressure downtown to prevent long rebounds and second chance looks from the Illini on Sunday.