The Northwestern women’s basketball team (9-11, 2-4 Big Ten) wraps up their season series with the Wisconsin Badgers (7-13, 0-7 Big Ten) on Sunday at the Kohl Center. The two teams last met on Jan. 11 in Evanston, with the ‘Cats winning 69-60. Here are three things to watch in advance of today’s game in Madison.
1. The Badgers play HARD on defense
Although the results haven’t shown it yet, the Badgers are tough, gritty defensive team. Despite having the lowest scoring offense in the conference, their defense is more middle of the pack (9th in scoring defense, 8th in opponent field goal percentage). They’ve held two of the stronger Big Ten teams, Purdue and Iowa, to under 60 points each. You can’t get away with taking any possessions off against their defense, and as a result they force their opponents to play an intense 40 minutes every game.
2. Contain Cayla McMorris
The Wildcats did a great job forcing the ball out of the Wisconsin star’s hands last Thursday, holding her to just nine field goal attempts in their last game. McMorris turned around and dropped 23 points on 18 shots against Penn State this week, and she averages 14.2 points per game on an efficient 42.6 percent clip. The senior is undoubtedly the go-to scorer for the Badgers, and the ‘Cats need to force the ball out of her hands and make the Badger role players step up.
3. Dominate the glass
Calling one Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah! Her speciality will come into play against a weak rebounding team in Wisconsin. The Badgers leading rebounder is Marsha Howard, averaging a respectable 7.7 boards per game. However, that pales in comparison to PKA’s 11.2, and in their last meeting PKA out-rebounded Howard 18-5. As long as she can stay out of foul trouble, Kunaiyi-Akpanah’s ability to crash the glass will be critical for the ‘Cats.
Matt McHugh and Ari Levin will have the Wildcat pre-game show at 4:15 with tip-off at 4:30 CT. You can listen on 89.3 FM in the Evanston-Chicago area, or online at wnursports.com.
Also, be sure to catch up on this week’s episode of Crashing the Boards, the only Northwestern women’s basketball podcast around: