No. 11 Maryland women’s basketball will get its first look at Wisconsin this season, as the Terps enter Thursday with a bit of momentum after a resounding win over Rutgers.
Last week, Maryland lost to then-No. 6 Indiana on the road and beat Rutgers at home, dropping two spots in the AP poll. But coming off one of the most complete games of the season, the Terps are feeling good.
The Terps are set to take on the Badgers at the Kohl Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus.
Wisconsin Badgers (6-12, 2-5 Big Ten)
Second-year head coach Marisa Moseley and the Badgers have not had the best start to Big Ten play thus far. Its two conference wins were against Michigan State and Purdue, both teams Maryland defeated earlier in the season.
Coming off a 37-point loss to Indiana, Wisconsin will face its second consecutive top-15 opponent when it takes on the Terps.
The Badgers have struggled on both ends of the court this season, ranking in the bottom three of both scoring offense and defense in the Big Ten. This team is loaded with underclassmen, but its senior class has contributed much of its scoring this season.
Players to know
Julie Pospisilova, 6-foot senior guard, No. 5 — Pospisilova is the team’s leading scorer with 13.1 points per game. Even though she finished with under 10 points against top conference teams like Indiana and Michigan State in the last two games, she knows how to consistently score. She scored a season-high 32 points against Florida State on Dec. 1.
Serah Williams, 6-foot-4 freshman forward, No. 25 — As a freshman, Williams was able to break through early in the season as a reliable scorer. Starting in all 18 games, she averaged 14.3 points and 6.4 rebounds over the team’s first six games. The Brooklyn, New York, native has 43 steals this season, the second most on the team. She also had a 31-point performance against Michigan State last Wednesday.
Avery LaBarbera, 5-foot-6 graduate guard, No. 12— After four successful seasons at Holy Cross, LaBarbera has adjusted well to life in the Big Ten. While she hasn't replicated the numbers that led to her being named last season’s Patriot League Player of the Year, LaBarbera has been a steady presence in the lineup, especially on the defensive end. Despite her small stature, she has 14 steals in the past five games and is averaging close to six boards a game.
Blocked shots. Despite having the worst scoring defense in the conference, the Badgers hold their own down low. Led by Williams with 28 swats on the year, blocks is the only major stat in which Wisconsin ranks in the top half of the conference (sixth).
Defense. The most glaring weakness of Wisconsin’s game is that it allows the most points per game (73.8) in the Big Ten. With as many dynamic scorers as Maryland has, it should have no problem scoring at will on the Badgers’ defense.
Three things to watch
1. Maryland is getting in a groove. Maryland has won five of its last six games, building confidence with each. The team knows it could have won at Indiana as it made a comeback late in the game. The Terps fired on all cylinders against Rutgers, when it held multiple double-digit leads and got meaningful bench contributions from Brinae Alexander, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her college career. She led the team with 20 points.
2. Assist-to-turnover-ratio. This is head coach Brenda Frese’s favorite stat, and she was pleased when the Terps had a season-high 24 assists against Rutgers. Graduate guard Abby Meyers said the Terps win when they have more assists than turnovers.
“We’re always going to try and emphasize moving the ball around and finding the best shot, being patient, not forcing bad ones,” Meyers said.
3. A 3-point showdown? Wisconsin and Maryland rank at the bottom of the conference in perimeter defense. On the other hand, Maryland’s 37.5% 3-point clip ranks third in the Big Ten, and the Badgers have attempted 82 triples in their past four games. Expect Thursday’s game to feature a lot of triples.