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No. 9 Maryland women’s basketball vs. Wisconsin preview

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The Terps will look for their 24th consecutive win in Big Ten play Sunday.

Indiana v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

No. 9 Maryland women’s basketball will take on Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, Sunday at 3 p.m as it looks to keep its nine-game winning streak alive.

The Terps stayed in the Midwest this week after defeating Minnesota, 90-73, on Jan. 11 to boost their Big Ten record to 6-0. In that matchup, three different players scored 20 or more points.

This season, Maryland has averaged 90.5 points per game against Big Ten opponents and is 4-0 on the road. Headed into its seventh conference game of the season, five players average ten points or more per game and seven players average 10 assists or more against Big Ten opponents.

“It’s so much fun the way we want to play sharing the ball,” guard Katie Benzan said. “Everyone’s scoring and having everybody involved, it’s just why we play the game and it’s just so much fun.”

The last time Maryland traveled to play Wisconsin was last February. The Terps won that game, 85-56. Overall against the Badgers, Maryland is undefeated, winning all seven matchups.

Wisconsin Badgers (3-7, 0-7 Big Ten)

2019-20 record: 12-19 (3-15 Big Ten)

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis is in his fifth season as the leader of the Badgers after serving as a head coach and an assistant coach at a number of colleges. In his first four seasons coaching Wisconsin, Tsipis has amassed a 45-80 record.

During the 2018-19 season, Tsipis led Wisconsin to the most wins the program had seen since 2010-11 as it finished 15-18. The same year, ranked 13th in the league, the Badgers advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in five years and won two tournament games, which were both upsets over No. 12 Penn State and No, 5 Ohio State.

Wisconsin went undefeated in nonconference play but has not been able to find its momentum in the Big Ten. The last game Wisconsin played was against No. 13 Michigan on Jan. 14. The Badgers lost that one, 69-40.

Players to know

Sydney Hilliard, sophomore guard, 5’11, No. 30 - Hillard has started in all 10 games this season. She leads the Badgers in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game. Hillard scored a career-high 26 points against Iowa. The Wisconsin native averages 33.9 minutes per game, the most on the team, and leads the group in assists, averaging 4.9 per game.

Julie Pospisilova, sophomore guard, 6’0, No. 5 - Pospisilova has also started in all 10 games this season. She leads the team in blocks, averaging 1.4 per game, and has 14 so far this season. Pospisilova scored a career-high 28 points against Minnesota and went 5-for-8 from behind the arc in that matchup. The guard from the Czech Republic leads the team in steals, recording 17 this season.

Imani Lewis, junior forward, 6’1, No. 34 - Lewis was the No. 6 forward in the country, according to Prospect Nation. After the 2019-20 season, Lewis was named to the Second-Team All-Big Ten. This season, against No. 13 Michigan, Lewis led the Badgers with nine points and five rebounds. She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game and leads the Badgers in rebounds, recording 6.7 per game.

Strength

Blocking shots. Wisconsin has had 47 blocks this season, which comes out to an average of 4.7 per game. On average, their opponents record 3.3 per game, and Maryland falls right into that range, averaging 3 blocks. The Badgers have four players with more than five blocks this season and Pospisilova leads the way averaging 1.4 per game.

Weakness

Turnovers. Wisconsin averages 18 turnovers per game with a -5.9 margin. In their last game against Minnesota, the Terps forced 16 turnovers and scored 24 points off them. Against Michigan, the Badgers committed 13 turnovers. On average, Maryland scores 17.5 points off takeaways, so if Wisconsin gives up the ball they can expect the Terps will capitalize on those opportunities.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland improve defensively from their matchup against Minnesota? Although she acknowledged that the road win against the Gophers was precious, head coach Brenda Frese believes that her team could have put together a much more complete game on the defensive end.

“We want to be able to be ready from the tip. And obviously not allowing their best players get started,” said Frese. “We knew going into the last game that Jasmine Powell was their most talented player on the floor and defensively we had a lot of early breakdowns which led to them building success and a lot of confidence within the first 20 minutes of the game.”

Maryland allowed sophomore guard Jasmine Powell to score 22 points as she shot 2-for-2 from behind the arc in the first quarter. After a strong defensive performance against Purdue prior to that matchup — the Boilermakers committed 17 turnovers and shot 24% from the field — it will be interesting to see how the Terps readjust.

“We want to be able to start sooner and I think just build our team defense collectively so we can get a complete 40-minute game,” Frese said.

2. Will the Terps continue to spread out their scoring? In their last matchup, four players finished the game in double-digit scoring, with three of them ending with 20 points or more. This is the second time this season Maryland achieved this feat, the first time was against Towson in early December.

“We’re so successful because we have so many threats and so many people who can score and share the ball,” Benzan said. “It is just Maryland basketball we take pride in that.”

With so many offensive weapons on the court and Wisconsin’s turnover struggles, it will be interesting to how the Terps capitalize on the opportunities.

3. What will playing time for the bench look like? With the injuries of freshman forward Angel Reese and redshirt junior guard Channise Lewis, the Terps’ bench has been stepping up. Against Minnesota, senior forward Alaysia Styles, sophomore forward Faith Masonius, redshirt freshman guard Zoe Young and freshman guard Taisiya Kozlova all saw at least five minutes on the court.

“We’ve talked about our consistency now with only having nine players and all nine have to be ready to play and compete for 40 minutes,” said Frese.

Styles and Masonius each played over 15 minutes and picked up six points each. With a long season ahead and nine active players on the roster, the bench will continue to play a crucial role in Maryland’s success.