Northwestern women’s basketball looks to double their Big Ten win total tonight when they close out a two-game homestand by hosting Wisconsin.
Northwestern is coming off a hard-fought 10 point loss to Nebraska, a game where the Wildcats hung tough despite conceding too many open looks from beyond the arc. Luckily for Northwestern, the Badgers come into tonight’s game dead-last in the Big Ten in three-point percentage.
The ‘Cats’ best performer against Nebraska on Sunday was junior forward Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds. PKA should once again feast tonight, as Wisconsin is desperately lacking in low post defenders. Michigan’s Hallie Thome and Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, two of the conference’s best bigs, each torched Wisconsin for 20+ points already this year, and there’s no reason to think Akpanah can’t do the same tonight.
Against Nebraska, Northwestern ran some of their offense through PKA in the low post, a look they could once again use to their success tonight. Under 2nd year head coach Jonathan Tsipis, Wisconsin is a disciplined bunch defensively, but Akpanah’s unique skillset should spell trouble for the Badgers.
While Abi Schied struggled against the Huskers on Sunday, tonight will be an opportunity for her to bounce back. If Schied gets it going offensively to join with the always successful, though sometimes not efficient, Lindsey Pulliam, Wisconsin should have issues slowing the ‘Cats down offensively.
On the other side of the ball, Wisconsin struggles to put the ball in the basket, having been held under 50 points in 3 of their 4 Big Ten games this year, while tallying just 57 in the other. Wisconsin is 13th in the conference in FG% and FT%, and as previously mentioned, is the worst three-point shooting team in the Big Ten. Cayla McMorris is their best offensive player, but she has not started either of the Badgers’ last two contests after missing three games for personal reasons.
Marsha Howard is Wisconsin’s only other double-digit scorer, but her lack of a three-point shot allows defenses to key in on her inside of the arc and make scoring difficult. Off the bench, Suzanne Gilreath is unafraid to shoot, but she’s hit just 32 percent of her triples this year.
Though Northwestern sits just 1-3 in Big Ten play, the Wildcats will play Wisconsin twice in their next three games, giving them a golden opportunity to climb their way back up the Big Ten standings. If Northwestern takes care of the ball and shoots marginally well, they should be able to take care of the Badgers, even if it’s not necessarily pretty. If Pulliam, Scheid, and Pallas get going offensively, it could be a long night for the visitors from Madison.
Northwestern and Wisconsin will tip off at 7 PM CT from Historic Beardsley Gymnasium in Evanston. WNUR Sports’ Austin Miller and Darren Zaslau will have the call, with the Wildcat tip-off show set to get things going at 6:45 CT. You can listen to the game on 89.3 FM in the Evanston-Chicago area, or on wnursports.com worldwide.