Following Wednesday’s 33-point blowout at the hands of No. 15 Maryland, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (6-17, 3-10 Big Ten) tips off against Katie Gearlds and the Purdue Boilermakers (14-10, 5-8 Big Ten) for the first time this season in Madison on Feb. 13.
The two last met Jan. 21 of last season, in a tight matchup that the Boilermakers won with a last-second free throw, 56-55. With an 8-14 mark since 2001 and a 3-7 record over their last ten matches against Purdue, the University of Wisconsin aims to get back on track Sunday afternoon.
Anchored by first-year head coach Katie Gearlds, a three-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Coach of the Year at Marian University, the Boilermakers score 70.6 points along with 15.8 assists per outing. Purdue also ranks 66th out of 348 qualified programs in Division I competition with 33.5% shooting from behind-the-arc, so Katie Nelson and Julie Pospíšilová will need to move their feet and contest looks from outside.
UW is a less comfortable unit offensively, averaging 57.3 points per contest with 39.2% from the field and only 30.5% from deep.
The Badgers need to improve with rebounding to win, as they currently collect 29.7 boards a game, the sixth-worst clip in the country. Gearlds’s group posts a -1.1 rebounding margin per game, so if Sara Stapleton, Brooke Schramek and Halle Douglass manage to outwork Purdue’s low-post threats, the Badgers could cash in their seventh victory of the season this weekend.
With UW star Sydney Hilliard taking a temporary leave of absence to focus on a personal matter, expect junior Julie Pospíšilová to carry the bulk of Wisconsin’s offensive load.
Pospíšilová, a 6-foot guard representing Prague, Czech Republic, averages 14 points as well as three assists and 1.5 steals. With 871 total minutes logged thus far, the most of any student-athlete in women’s D-I hoops, point guard Katie Nelson boasts a team-leading 76 assists, 38 steals and 36.3% mark from deep.
Keep an eye out for Schramek as well, the sophomore earns 8.1 points and four rebounds per game and has seen recent improvement with 14.2 points and nearly five boards a game over her last four bouts.
Purdue names to monitor
Sophomore Madison Layden, a member of the 2020-2021 Big-Ten All-Freshman Team, notches 12.3 points and 4.4 rebounds over 34.1 minutes each time out. Responsible for the 12th most assists in the nation, junior guard Jeanae Terry averages 7.3 points, six rebounds and 5.5 helpers with 42.4% efficiency from the field. Alongside Layden and Terry, senior Brooke Moore leads the Boilermakers with a 38.3% clip from outside.
Last Sunday, 6,007 members of the Badgers faithful electrified the Kohl Center and provided an atmosphere unlike anything UW has experienced this season. If Moseley’s team can feed off that energy, share the ball and play with effort and aggression on the defensive end, Wisconsin can surely claim their fourth Big Ten victory with roughly two weeks remaining until the conference tournament.